Originally created 04/23/98

Law enforcement goes online

If you ever have trouble finding a cop when you need one, try looking online

The Worldwide Web has grown thick with law enforcement sites, ranging from official sites of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department to personal sites of individual officers from local agencies, said Sgt. John Daley Jr. of the Boston Police Department.

One of the most popular sites for law enforcement is www.officer.com, created by Sgt. Daley's colleague, Sgt. James Meridith.

The site has become a central clearinghouse for police information and links to thousands of other sites, Sgt. Daley said. Officers can even research criminal justice topics through the site. "He started out with about 50 or so local officers' sites and the thing just took off," he said.

Various sites have online links with features that include missing children data bases and live police scanner feeds from cities like New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

"It connects to those police departments and you listen to live police calls," said Columbia County Sheriff's Sgt. Tommy Haigwood, who has two sites of his own.

"One has my law enforcement site on it," Sgt. Haigwood explained. "I've got another one that has old Indian stories and legends of wolves -- more or less a Save the Wolves deal."

Officers from around the globe find ways to connect, make friends and exchange information. When there is any sort of new criminal activity or law enforcement technique, cops online are the first to hear about it and spread the word, Sgt Haigwood said.

"I talk to officers in New Hampshire, California and even Australia," he said. "I've got one I talk to from China. He don't speak good English, but I can sort of make out that he is in law enforcement."

The Chinese officer is restricted by his government to only one hour online every week -- a restriction Sgt. Haigwood is glad he doesn't have to abide by.

"I think most of the time I'm off I'm either working on my web site or doing something with my graphics," he said. "It's kind of relaxing after you work all week; you just get online and unwind."

On his days off, Sgt. Haigwood said he can stay online up to four hours at a time -- much to his wife's irritation.

"She tells me to get up and do other things," he said. "Sometimes I give in to her."


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