The Columbus Division of Police has launched a new mobile app to increase community engagement and safety. Application Users can file police reports, submit tips anonymously, and access other police information all in one place.
"That's the value of this," Interim Chief of Police Tom Quinlan said. "You don't have to wait until you get home to look it up on a computer. You have the computer in your hand at all times with a smart phone. This puts all the applications there. All the social media sites are all down one side. Even if you don't have a personal account, you can access our information and go right back to the app without switching between different internet sites."
Users can also receive alerts or push notifications, allowing police to send out the latest information, which Quinlan believes will result in a more informed public, increased safety, and better transparency.
"We can send out notifications and give instructions and respond to people who are sending us information," Quinlan said. "Some with a tip can send us the information but also the exact location. If they may be a visitor and might not know exactly where they are, they can push the location button to tell us where they are. They can send us a photograph of what they're seeing, and then we have information in real time to work with and respond with officers."
Council member Emmanuel Remy says the city spent about $72,000 and signed a three-year agreement with Austin-based technology company MobilePD for the service. Officials say the filing of reports with the app, especially minor vehicle accidents, can save time for residents and police. But they also stress that the app should not replace calling 911 for emergencies.