District of Columbia residents can now receive crime alerts from police via text message or e-mail.

Officials say businesses and individuals can sign up online for D.C. Police Alert, which was launched last month.

Through the network, police send short messages within hours of a crime, including descriptions of suspects. Officials say the alerts go out only after police have interviewed victims and witnesses.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the initiative is another effort by police to become closer partners with the community.

The bulletins request people to call 911 with tips, but warn them not to act as vigilantes if they see suspects. The messages instruct: "Do not take action."

A federal homeland security grant is funding the system.