Sheriff’s office launching website
The Kanawha Sheriff's Office hopes a new interactive website will improve communications with the public, offering information at the click of a mouse.
The website, which can be found at kanawhasheriff.us, will be officially launched today after nearly a year of designing and building, Sheriff John Rutherford said.
Cpl. Brian Humphreys and Sarah Chapman, who works in the Tax Office, began meeting last March to begin putting together ideas for the website.
Chapman, who has worked in the Tax Office for about seven years, handled the technical aspect of building the website. Humphreys, the sheriff's new public information officer, gathered information from the chiefs of each branch within the Sheriff's Office.
"We needed to update the website to show what kind of services we offer," Rutherford said. "We're expanding into different things now and trying to make our correspondence with the public easier."
The two visited websites for other police agencies getting ideas and tips for the design. Chapman said a revamp of the old website was overdue. Rutherford said he could see the excitement in her face when he told her he wanted to look at an update for the site.
Her goals were to make the website easily accessible and user friendly, as well as look good. The sheriff liked the color scheme, black and gray like the deputies uniforms.
"This has everything you need to know about the sheriff's office," Humphreys said. "It's a two-way street; we can provide information and the public can interact with us."
The department also unveiled its Twitter account with the handle @KanawhaSheriff. People can follow the sheriff's office and receive information on road closures, emergencies and when deputies are on the scene of a crime that might cause public alarm.
One of the things the website offers is access to the tip line.
Tips can still be called in but now can also be left online. Humphreys said people could leave tips online for meth labs, crimes or if they see a wanted person. Tips can be left anonymously though the corporal said its good to leave contact information incase investigators need more information.
The website also gives residents the ability to search warrants for those living in unincorporated areas. The warrants are only those that the sheriff's office would serve. Rutherford said the list is searchable and updated every couple of days as deputies check for new warrants in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
"What we encourage people to do is to check the warrants and if they see anyone they know on there to let us know-call us or leave a tip," Rutherford said. "Also if they find themselves on there they can call us and turn themselves in.
"It's more efficient and less costly."
Deputies still will be going out to serve warrants and hunting offenders down, but this option also gives the public a chance to help.
Residents also can search for tax records on the website and print off new tax tickets if needed. Rutherford said a carry over from the old website was the ability to pay property taxes online.
But the sheriff's office is bigger than deputies and taxes, Rutherford said.
The website also offers information on the Day Report Center, which saved the county $2,588,631 on the 2011 jail bill, and the Drug Court, which offers those arrested for drug crimes a chance to rehabilitate themselves with the goal of returning them to the community as drug-free, law-abiding citizens.
Information also was available on home confinement and legal process services. The website also offers public notices, such as information on the upcoming deputy's civil service test and on how to obtain a concealed weapons permit.
"This was a total team effort," Rutherford said. "Every chief, everyone who wanted input had a say. Some meetings we had three people and some meetings we had thirteen people."
Rutherford said the upkeep of the website would not add any more work for the deputies. Tweets would be sent out as things happen, Humphreys said.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.