The Baltimore Police Department is hoping to expand its connection with city residents following the launch of a new mobile app that lets users submit tips and track department activity from their mobile phones.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at a press conference that the new application, developed in partnership with Austin-based app developer Mobile PD, will improve transparency and “assist in both the crime fight and our interactions with everyday citizens in the City of Baltimore.”
Mobile PD CEO Kushyar Kasraie said at the conference that the Baltimore Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency the developer has ever worked with.
The app lets users submit tips, view police data and policies, receive push alerts from BPD and see all of BPD’s social media accounts. Davis noted at the announcement that not everyone is on Twitter – 24 percent of Americans, by Pew Research’s count, he noted – but that a large majority of Americans have a smartphone. Thus, even without having accounts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, a user can still see each page from the app.
The app also has several methods that allow users to send tips to police. The Metro Crime Stoppers tool is an extension of the reward-based service that lets Baltimoreans submit tips anonymously. “Submit a Tip” and “Tip Chat” are separate buttons that let users communicate information to the department without entering a reward pool, and have the option to remain anonymous.
Davis pointed out that tip submissions are already on the upswing, thanks to a 174-percent increase in tips about homicides and non-fatal shootings in 2016.
Chief police spokesman T.J. Smith walked through how the app functions at the conference. In addition to pointing out the various tip methods, he highlighted the “Transparency” button, which offers PDFs of all of the department’s publicly available policies.
“These are questions that we get asked all too often, and we thought it would be very easy to go ahead and put it there,” he said.
While the tip functions are handy, Smith said the app is by no means a replacement for the good-old-fashioned 911 call. In addition to the app and the 911 line, police also still maintain a call tip line at 443-902-4824, an email account ([email protected]) and the Metro Crime Stoppers reward program, accessible by phone at 1-866-7LOCKUP and by text at CRIMES (274637).
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