Riverside Police last week unveiled a new way for communicating with residents through e-mail and cellphone text messages. At no cost to the village, the police department can send out public safety alerts through Nixle.com, which provides municipalities across the country the ability to send out instant messages regarding everything from police action to recreation programs.

Used extensively on the West Coast, Nixle.com is new to Illinois. According to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, Riverside is just the second municipality in the state to use the technology. In June, North Riverside’s recreation department became the first agency in the state to sign up for the service.

While Riverside already employs its own e-flash system to send out village news to residents via e-mail, the messages from Nixle.com can include all kinds of information and will most often be used by the department’s detective division, Weitzel said.

“We can use mugshots and do mapping,” Weitzel said. “If there’s a missing child, we can load a picture on to it. It can used for arrests and even for traffic notifications.”

There’s no cost to sign up to get alerts from Nixle.com, just log on to the Web address and then click “sign up to register.” You can choose how you want messages delivered, via e-mail or text message. The messages are also available for viewing on the Nixle.com Web site.

-Bob Uphues