Police App in Indiana Lets Residents Report Non-911 Incidents to Cops
Some 1,200 Fishers, Ind., residents have installed the city's new CrimeWatch App on their mobile devices to communicate with officers.Sometimes when residents of Fishers, Ind., see something questionable on their streets, such as a strange vehicle, a person who is acting suspicious or an erratic driver, they hesitate to let police know about the situation because it doesn't qualify as a 9-1-1 call. So instead of notifying police, a resident might do nothing at all. To the Fishers Police Department, that's a behavior the department wants to change through a new CrimeWatch mobile app that it released on May 18 for free use by any of the city's 90,000 residents. The app, available for Android and iOS devices, lets participating residents take a photo of suspicious events, check off a box describing what they see and file a quick report to officers who are out in the streets getting notes on their in-car computers. The CrimeWatch app is not for 9-1-1 calls—residents still are being urged to call 9-1-1 for shootings, assaults and other serious crimes—but it is a way for the city's 104 cops to stay in touch with what's happening on the streets, via direct reports from concerned citizens. It's also not an app to get tips from residents. If a call becomes an emergency call, residents can hit a button on the app to directly call 9-1-1 for help. "This is going to change the way we do law enforcement," Capt. Ed Gebhart, who spearheaded the app initiative with the department, told eWEEK. "It will allow community members to contact police cars on the streets at the time they need them."
Once a resident reports an incident through the app, the alert goes out to officers on their in-car computers within 15 seconds so they can respond while the suspicious activity or other incident is occurring. "People who send information through the app can feel like things are being dealt with," said Gebhart. After police respond, residents are sent an automated text message to let them know police checked out their report.