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NYPD rolls out smartphone app designed for the public to report crime

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, left, and

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, left, and NYPD Crime Stoppers Unit executive officer Sgt. Erica B. Rivera, describe how the new Crime Stoppers mobile app works during an unveiling at One Police Plaza in Manhattan on Thursday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Witness a crime in New York City? There's now an app for that.

The NYPD rolled out a free smartphone app Thursday for use on Apple IOS and Android devices to anonymously report crimes to the Crime Stoppers program.

The app, funded by the NYPD and developed with the help of the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation, is the latest high-tech advance to make the Crime Stoppers program, which has largely relied on telephone tipsters, more broadly accessible electronically, officials said.

“It’s the evolution of our Crime Stoppers unit, moving into the 21st Century,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea in announcing the new program.

Susan Birnbaum, president of the Police Foundation, said the app extends the reach of Crime Stoppers by allowing anyone from anywhere in the city to provide anonymous tips to police.

The Crime Stoppers unit is housed at NYPD headquarters with a staff of about 20 who handle tips coming in from the five boroughs about crimes ranging from misdemeanors to sexual assaults and homicides, Shea said.

The app, which is found by searching “NYPD Crime Stoppers," adds to the program's services that already offer the public several options to report crime in the city. Tips about crimes can be called in on the Crime Stoppers hotline, 1-800-577-TIPS, or sent to the Crime Stoppers website and its social media channels.

In a video demonstration for reporters, officials showed how the app can be downloaded to a smartphone, and after users select one of ten language preferences, they can fill out a form that pops up on their phone screen. The tipster can then give details of the offense and possible suspects. Once the report is filed, the user is given a special confidential code number to use for any subsequent contacts or to collect a reward. 

The two-way dialog with the app allows anonymity for the tipster, something previously impossible through text messaging alone, officials said. A tipster can also attach a video of a crime to the app message,  Shea said.

“You know how important video is. It can be sent to the Crime Stoppers unit almost instantaneously or sent to the detectives,” Shea said. Once the video is analyzed, the chief said, detectives will then make a judgment on whether to release the images to the public.

The tipsters telephone number or computer URL cannot be traced, assuring anonymity, Shea said, adding that the app can be downloaded from Google or the online Apple store.

Since 2016 the NYPD has been pushing its Neighborhood Policing strategy and Shea said the new app is an extension of the policy of engaging cops with the communities they patrol.

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