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Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., PD Announces Real-Time Crime App

The MyCMPD app allows users to be alerted of crime as it happens in real time in neighborhoods close to their homes, schools or workplaces. The app also centralizes links from CMPD's website.

by Amanda Zhou, The Charlotte Observer / November 13, 2020

(TNS) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police launched a new smartphone application Thursday called "MyCMPD" that allows users to be alerted of crime as it happens in real time in neighborhoods close to their homes, schools or workplaces.

When CMPD receives information about crimes from 911 calls or other reports, the information is automatically put into the map in the application, CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said.. While the map shows crimes that have occurred in recent days, it also shows spots where there are police looking into "unverified" larcenies, assaults or other crimes. The map also shows places that have had traffic accidents or road blockages.

"It's a game chang(er)," CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said at a press conference. "It's a way to personalize public safety and allow citizens to have access to our police department — information in the palm of your hand."

With apps like NextDoor and Citizen — that allow people to post information about crimes in their neighborhoods — Estes, who supervised the app's development, said CMPD also wanted a "one-stop shop" for people to report crimes and get alerts for crimes happening near them.

The app also centralizes links from CMPD's website, where users can submit tips to CrimeStoppers or complaints or commendations about officers, report crimes and contact division captains.

Estes said he knew CMPD needed to find a better way to share information with citizens when he saw that his teenage son did everything through apps on his phone.

"Here we are trying to communicate with traditional stand up media or on a website to a whole group of our future citizens ... and they don't communicate that way," he said in an interview.

The development of the application — which cost between $140,000 and $150,000 — took over a year and was funded entirely by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Foundation, he said.

CMPD partnered with the company Atlas One to develop the app. The company had previously worked with other police departments on less advanced products, Estes said.

"There were a few police department that were doing mobile app stuff (but) it was like watching the Atari when there is a (PlayStation 5)," he said.

Estes said the app is one of the first of its kind and other police agencies are now also working with the company to develop the same product.

From the beginning, CMPD was careful to protect user privacy, he said. In the app, users can select certain areas to get crime alerts instead of sharing their location data.

"We never track historical locations or share your personal data with any third parties, including CMPD," Atlas One said in a press release.

In future versions of the app, users will be able to submit photos and videos of crimes, police said.

©2020 The Charlotte Observer, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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