Police to expand online crime watch system to apartment complexes

Posted February 7, 2014 7:57 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

rhyc-connectAn internet-based information clearinghouse for local law enforcement and hotel owners expands later this month to apartment complexes in York County.

Rock Hill-York County CONNECT, a joint effort between the Rock Hill Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s Convention and Visitors Bureau launched in the spring of 2013.

It was first introduced to hotel and motel operators in York County as a way of sharing non-emergency information with law enforcement as a business crime watch program.

Major Steve Parker oversees the program’s efforts at the Rock Hill Police Department. Parker believes the apartment complex expansion, coming February 20, will be a useful tool for the new civilians trained to  use it.

“We can put in all the information we want in the world,” Parker said. “But if [the apartment complexes and hotels] aren’t letting us know what the problems are, then we’re not going to be able to address them.”

Information submitted to the system by apartment managers and hotel operators is “instantly sent” to officers, all of whom have been trained to use the system. Parker said information submitted in the apartment managers’ section is kept separate from hotel operators.

“I don’t want to know about a civil issue and someone not paying their rent, “Parker said. “But if [apartment managers] are getting complaints about noise [they] can put that on there, maybe the next time officers are sent out there, it might change the amount of tolerance we have.”

Officers in the department’s Patrol division are notified via e-mail of information added to the site. Additionally, a Sargent over the department’s Selective Enforcement Unit reviews the information which may lead to an additional presence from the department’s Street Crimes and Traffic units.

Officers and apartment managers meet on a routine basis to share some of their concerns in person. And while some apartments may have more severe risks of crime than others, there are always common issues.

Not all apartments are going to have all of the same issues, Parker said, but people acting suspicious in a hallway, car break ins and drug activity are fairly common.

Parker dismissed concerns of certain apartments earning a negative reputation, citing public incident reports available via the state’s Freedom of Information laws.

“The information is already out there. The incident report is out there daily if something is going on,” Parker said. “This is a matter of making a better, safer community.”

Funding for the online storage of the CONNECT database comes through a partnership of the county’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The CONNECT program first debuted in Albuquerque, N.M., and is used in a handful of cities across the country. Law enforcement agencies in York County adopted the program in March, 2013. Parker said York County is the first in South Carolina and the first in the southeast to adopt the program.