There’s a new tool for fighting crime and connecting with police — and using it can be as easy as reaching for your smartphone.
Victoria police have launched MobileVicPD, an app they say connects all the VicPD channels into one mobile application.
Billed as a way to “fight crime from your pocket,” the app is the first of its kind among Canadian police departments, Victoria police said.
Users of the app, which can be downloaded for free on iPhone iOS7 and Android, can track crime, report crimes online, leave tips for investigators, listen to news reports and follow the department’s social media channels — @vicpdcanada on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
The app also sends out push notifications for such emergency alerts as traffic incidents, missing persons and extreme- weather warnings.
Department spokesman Const. Mike Russell said the app will not replace phoning 911 for emergencies.
The app can be used to report shoplifting, graffiti, cases of theft, fraud or counterfeit currency under $5,000.
In the “Is This Yours?” section, users can check whether stolen items have been recovered by police.
Russell said many people don’t bother reporting thefts of items, thinking it’s unlikely they’ll get the property back, so the department hopes the app will make reporting crime easier and quicker.
The app includes crime maps, which show users what crimes have occurred in their neighbourhood. Users also can set up an alert so they are notified as soon as a crime occurs near their home, business or child’s school.
The app lets users submit anonymous tips about crime or suspicious activity through Crime Stoppers. You can also report traffic violations, after a 24-hour “cooling-down period.”
The app was developed by Silicon Valley-based GoMobilePD at a cost of $7,500. The annual licensing fee is $3,500.
Jamieson Johnson, a Cowichan Valley-raised co-founder of the company, said he and partner Kushyar Kasraie first created a mobile app for the Santa Cruz Police Department in 2011, and since then have developed apps for several police departments in the U.S. This is the first app they’ve created for a Canadian police department.
Johnson said people expect instant updates on sports scores, news headlines and their friends' social lives, so real-time information from their local police department is a natural next step.
Features of the app
• News: Read the latest VicPD news and media releases.
• Report Crime: Report crimes where the suspect is unknown to you and the total loss is less than $5,000. You can report vandalism, graffiti, lost, stolen or damaged goods, counterfeit currency, theft from vehicle, shoplifting, fraud below $5000, bicycle theft, found bicycles and more. You will need a valid email address to use this feature.
• Is This Yours?: Reconnect with lost or stolen property through a photo catalogue.
• Crime Maps: See reports of crime in your geographic location. All data displayed in this section is presented at the 00-block level and cleaned of personal information.
• Photos: View and search for the latest images of VicPD in Flickr archives. Browse through images of our bike squad, Emergency Response Team, K9, Patrol, Traffic and more.
• Videos: Watch videos from the VicPD YouTube Channel
• Audio: Listen to VicPD News features, media releases and interviews.
• Recruiting: Join VicPD. This isn’t just to become an officer. Stay up to date with latest job and volunteer postings, including the 911 Communications Centre, Civilian careers, Reserves, Volunteer positions.
• VicPD Stories: Follow along with D Watch and read Sgt. Fairburn’s stories from the streets of Victoria and Esquimalt.
• Submit a tip: Be the eyes and ears of VicPD by submitting anonymous tips through Crime Stoppers and help fight crime.
• Traffic Complaints: After a 24-hour cooling-down period, report traffic violations online, with actions ranging from general information for the traffic section, warnings, or issuing a ticket. You will need a valid email address to utilize this feature, and in the event a ticket is issued you must be willing to attend court and testify.
• Email Feedback: Provide feedback to VicPD such as improvements and new features you’d like to see added.