Apps Can Help Fight Crime - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Apps Can Help Fight Crime

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Southeast Georgia -

Police say it takes the community working with them to stop crime. That effort is becoming easier all the time with advancing technology. One of those technologies might not be the first that comes to mind when you think of fighting crime. Apps are available for your smart phone to do all sorts of things - like shopping, playing games, and checking the news or weather - but there are now some that offer the ability to not only find out about crime or criminals in your neighborhood, but also to report crime to the authorities--a simple interaction that can help keep you safe.

Technology is revolutionizing how you find out about or even report crime - putting the tools to do so right at your fingertips...often on your smartphone. Kimberly Womble discovered that as she prepared for a big move, "We were living in Germany and we were PCS'ing back to the states after ten years and we decided to purchase our first home and my biggest concern was crime." She and her husband had never been to Ft. Stewart and didn't know the area. A Google search turned up a site called Crimereports.com.

"It was one of the first apps that showed up - so I actually went to the site and it's amazing - if you go to Wayne county and you click on it right now - I mean it shows everything that has happened from whether it's a burglary or rape or broken into a car or domestic abuse you know - the sexual offenders and it's just, it's amazing what's out there," says Kimberly. She used the information in conjunction with other sites to narrow down her search, "I found out what areas, where the crime was the lowest and that's how we picked our house."

Kimberly says having information at her fingertips made the decision relatively easy...but it can have other benefits as well. APO Justin Samples of the Statesboro Police Department explains, "I

think it's extremely important for the public to be aware of any crimes that are going on in the community and specifically in their immediate area." Officer Samples works with the Statesboro Police Department and encounters people like Kimberly every year. He says, "We have college students every year - thousands and thousands coming in - we get calls from parents - asking for recommendations of where to live…we can say go to Crimereports.com and pull up Statesboro, Georgia, and you can see what crimes are happening, where they're happening and get an idea of where a good place to live is." He believes citizens having access to information also helps authorities keep them safe, "The more aware they are, the more they're going to be able to know what to keep an eye out for and they're gonna know more what they need to do to make themselves less of a target."

Statesboro P. D. takes that theory a step further - going beyond simply providing crime data to a mapping service. They use a service called Nixle to actively push real time information out to the public. "Nixle has been extremely valuable just as a transparency issue for the community - because they get immediate knowledge of what's going on before it hits the newspaper or before we have time to put it up on our website as a press release." In addition to pushing information out - the Department also encourages citizens to send it in...through the Tipsoft program that provides an app called Tipsubmit. It's one of several on the market allowing citizens to take a picture of anything suspicious and conveniently upload it along with pertinent information to local authorities or Crimestoppers. Officer Samples says, "They can send that information to us quickly - they can send more accurate information to us - they can take photos." "The technology just makes things so much faster - much more effective and efficient - getting information in and getting it back out," says Demery Bishop. He's the Executive Director of Savannah-Chatham Crimestoppers and has worked there since 1999. He says tips used to be archived on 3 x 5 index cards. Times have certainly changed. "You gotta be kinda leading, cutting edge - get out there and take the information and use it…as far as a tool - for the average, everyday layman, to be able to use the app - it's great - I mean how many times do we go to an app today? For anything?"

Officer Samples says, "People are getting used to the idea of using technology to work with law enforcement and we're trying to get used to it as a body as well." Furthering community relations through social media and app technology. "We're trying to meet people where they are and that's a learning process I think, between us and the community. We're all learning how to use it, but I'm seeing it gain more momentum," says Officer Samples. Momentum that shows no signs of slowing. "There are so many developers out there that are coming up with ideas faster than we can keep track of it - so I'm sure there's stuff on the horizon that's gonna be phenomenal," says Officer Samples. They hope it's embraced by the public as well. Kimberly believes she will, "I will definitely use it if we have to purchase again - I mean - no doubt about it."

Some other apps that have recently begun appearing on the market can help keep you and your home safe - apps that can control lighting, your security system or even surveillance cameras - all in the palm of your hand. You can check with your security company to find out if there's an app compatible with your system.

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