CMPD launches real-time crime-reporting app
In the midst of record-breaking floods and a rising homicide rate, CMPD launched a new tool for the public to report problems when they see them happening.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community members who witness a crime can now report it directly to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police in real-time through a new app that the police believe will revolutionize their crime-fighting efforts.
“It’s a way to personalize public safety and to allow citizens, no matter where you are, to have access to our police department and info that’s going to be in the palm of your hands,” CMPD chief Johnny Jennings said at the app launch announcement Thursday. “To me, it’s a game-changer.”
The app allows two-way communication between the police department and the community members. It has a “virtual police officer” feature that allows the public to report a crime, file a police report and alert police to emergency and non-emergency situations.
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It also allows CMPD to send vital information to the public through push notifications.
“Just like we’re experiencing today with flooding,” Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said, referring to the historic rainfall and treacherous road conditions the city had the day of the launch. “We can geo-notify folks in a specific area about incidents that are pertinent to them.”
The app also contains a crime-mapping feature and can be customized to alert people about incidents that happen at places of importance to them, like a person’s job or their child’s school.
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The app was the brainchild of Estes a couple of years ago.
“It came to me one evening dealing with one of my kids doing, it seemed like, everything on their mobile phone,” Estes recalled. “If we want to communicate with our community in ways that everyone else is, we need to develop an app.”
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CMPD hired a company called Atlas One to design the app, financing it through the police foundation.
“[Estes] wanted us to build CMPD the most advanced application in the country and beyond,” developer Kushyar Kasraie said.
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The app went through more than 200 test builds and took more than a year of work, developers said.
Going forward, Estes believes the app will allow CMPD and community members to eventually text, chat, share photos and voice recordings.
“This is a one-stop-shop for services and resources,” Estes said. “It has truly been a labor of love.”
The app is free to download.