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Pennsylvania Schools Team With Police on New App

The Hanover Police Department is using the CRIMEWATCH website and mobile app to help community members fight crime and stay informed of police incidents and crimes, and it is partnering with the local school district.

(TNS) — The Hanover Twp. Police Department is using the CRIMEWATCH website and mobile app to help community members fight crime and stay informed of police incidents and crimes.

The township has partnered with the Hanover Area School District to help provide emergency response information in the event of an emergency at district schools. The school district decided to pay the fee to join — $1,700 a year for five years — because of the new policy that students are not allowed to access their mobile phones in school, Superintendent Nathan Barrett said.

That policy began this school year and has significantly reduced fights and expulsions at the high school, Barrett said.

The CRIMEWATCH webpage and app allows the police department "to provide that reliable information" and "get it out to the public in a timely manner across multiple platforms," said Hanover Twp. Police Sgt. Ryan Cywinski, the school resource officer at the high school.

"So when we enter something into CRIMEWATCH, it automatically links to our Facebook page," Cywinski said. "You're not getting third party information."

Cywinski is encouraging parents to download the app to their phones.

"What's very nice about it is more importantly if there's an urgent situation or emergency situation going on in the township, and we post that through our CRIMEWATCH page, they'll get a push notification," Cywinski said. "So it will pop up on their screen."

Another benefit of the CRIMEWATCH app is that it's controlled by police, and school officials may not be able to send text alerts to parents if there's an incident going on a school, Barrett said.

Hanover Twp. police started posting information on the CRIMEWATCH website last week and posted the first school incident Wednesday.

A school district bus driver found a broken BB pistol in a backpack of a student from the district's kindergarten-first grade school on a bus ride from school after 3 p.m. Wednesday. As result of this incident, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will have to start using clear backpacks on March 1, Barrett said.

The district bought roughly 900 clear backpacks for those students at a cost of $5,400, Barrett said. Students at the junior/senior high school already were required to use clear backpacks.

This year, with the policy in place preventing students from accessing cellphones, the number of fights at the high school is down 50%; citations are down 50%; expulsions are down 50% and vaping violations are down 60%, according to Principal John Sipper. Students are required to keep their cellphones in their lockers at the high school and can use them when leaving school.

The CRIMEWATCH website has been available for 11 years, Cywinski said. The Hanover Area partnership with Hanover Twp. police is first time a school district has been involved, Barrett and Cywinski said.

Forty Fort is the only other Luzerne County municipality to use the CRIMEWATCH website and app. Cywinski said he thinks other law enforcement agencies in the county will start using the website/app.

The website and app allows residents to sign up for a free account to receive email alerts regarding crime committed in certain areas, submit a tip to local law enforcement, view recent arrests and "most wanted" lists, register camera and alarm systems, and share information with others through social media.

All information on the site is provided by participating agencies through the CRIMEWATCH Network.

© 2023 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.