Cinnaminson Police Department Chief Richard Calabrese is proud of his department’s new website.
Launched earlier this year, it is designed to be a user-friendly resource for the community, where residents can file permit applications and OPRA requests, find out how to submit anonymous crime tips, discover the inner workings of the police department – and so much more.
Of course, even with all the website offers, Chief Calabrese still wants it to be better. And for that, he’s counting on community members to share their feedback.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he reflected. “I was promoted to chief of police in February of 2019. My platform is transparency with the public and community policing. I’ve always been a huge advocate of that.”
When the website launched in February, Calabrese reached out to residents for their thoughts. Over the past six months, there have been features added – online reporting for certain crimes and a firearms permit application among them. Recently, Calabrese put out word once again that he’s looking for feedback.
“We keep adding more things. That’s why we reach out to the public, to get their opinion on what they think would be helpful,” Calabrese explained.
Before February, Facebook was the department’s primary presence on the internet. Calabrese said it will still use social media – the Facebook feed is on the new website – but now police offer an abundance of more information in one centralized virtual location.
Citizens can request vacation property checks through the new website, enjoying peace of mind that an officer will keep an eye on their home while they are away. They can learn about the department’s Safe Exchange Zone, which is under 24-hour surveillance in the police parking lot for those looking to meet buyers or sellers through sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Residents can sign up for Nixle alerts through the website, to notify them of community events, road closures and local emergencies.
The website is also a place to learn about the police department’s Camera Registration Program, for residents to register their at-home surveillance equipment, such as Ring Home Security Systems.
“You register your camera with us, so if there’s a crime in the area, we know where we can look and call and ask if we can look at your camera,” Calabrese said. “It’s not giving us access. It just lets us know a camera is there.”
There are also links to a number of helpful resources and departments in the township and county, such as the Cinnaminson Fire Department, Palmyra Ambulance Association, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It’s all packed in one website, and I’m trying to get more people aware of it,” Calabrese said. “I’m trying to make it as easy and user-friendly as possible. But it only works if you go there.”
Another important aspect to the website are the pictures and background information about police staff, including the chief himself. Calabrese wants residents to recognize him and his officers when they’re out in the community. He hopes the familiarity will assure the public there is no problem too small for the department.
“You need to be more involved with us on a daily basis, because the everyday problems, the quality-of-life issues I call them, those are the things that really strike home. The dogs off the leash, the noise violations – that bothers residents,” Calabrese noted.
“I just want people to know that we’re here not just for 911 calls. We’re here for everyday issues. We not only enjoy it, but we encourage you to reach out to us.”
Calabrese also wants residents to know they can reach out to the department anonymously. Through the website, residents can learn about Tip 411, a program enabling residents to submit anonymous tips to the department. There are links to download a related app, too.
“The Tip 411 is really huge,” Calabrese explained. “I paid for it for three years up front using forfeiture money, which is money we seized from illegal activity. The residents didn’t have to pay a dime for this feature.”
Calabrese researches how to improve the Cinnaminson Police Department website by visiting the sites of departments across the country, checking out what makes a website work and what doesn’t. Of course, the best way he can improve his own department’s website is to listen to what the community wants.
“I’m ready to hear from close to 16,000 residents what I can do to make it better,” the chief said.