Miami-Dade Police have announced introduction of a new mobile app in which users can report nonemergencies, anonymously, if they wish.
The new app is that, and a lot more, Detective Richard Adams of the MDPD’s Homeland Security Bureau explained.
Adams and his colleagues wanted a technology that would allow Miami-Dade residents and visitors to report suspicious activities to Homeland Security. He developed a prototype that eventually made its way to the county mayor’s office.
As it happens, information technology personnel in the mayor’s office were working on something similar. They liked Adams’ prototype, but the mayor and his staff felt the app should be developed in such a way that its benefit would extend beyond the Homeland Security Bureau, to allow Miami-Dade’s more than two million residents and its thousands of visitors, to be additional eyes and ears for the entire police department.
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In effect, the new COP (Community On Patrol) app deputizes the entire community, Adams explained.
But how is this different from calling 911?
The focus of the app is on nonemergency situations, Adams said.
If a member of the public calls 911, this initiates a series of actions in which officers are dispatched to a scene.
In the case of the COP app, he supposes a scenario in which a member of the public observes a suspicious event or individual. That observer, not being sure if this is meaningful, could report this via the COP app by text, video, or other image.
This alert would be routed to the police department’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) where, 24-hours a day, detectives are collecting and analyzing these tips. It is possible that different tips could come together, like the pieces of a puzzle, allowing detectives to solve crimes and even to anticipate criminal activity.
Adams sees the app as “a robust investigative tool.”
It is also “a force multiplier,” he said, that can be used to dial 911, connect with CrimeStoppers, commend an officer or file a complaint against an officer, and even link to the department’s social media pages.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.