Philadelphia Police Department launches mobile crime reporting app
iWatch allows citizens to send tips to police anonymously
April 24, 2012, 8:12 pm · Updated April 25, 2012, 12:40 am·
Snitches can now do what they do best without the fear of being caught.
The Philadelphia Police Department is now using iWatch, a mobile application that allows citizens to text tips to the police without being identified.
On April 12, the PPD officially began using the application, which is free for iPhone and Android systems. The program, which is also available online, allows citizens with information or witnesses at the scene of a crime to text the PPD and upload pictures and video. They have the option to remain completely anonymous — the police will only see a generated tip number, not a phone number — or they can leave their name and number if a reward is offered.
“People today use their phones for almost everything,” Fred Roth, detective at the PPD Real Time Crime Center, said. “This will help speed up investigations and keep people safe. And people who are used to using their smartphones are very tech savvy.”
However, the app is not meant for reporting emergencies or to replace 911.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush is wary of the app and cautions students to get to safety in the event of a crime. She feels that students should report directly to Division of Public Safety detectives after the event rather than snapping a picture of a suspect, which she considers dangerous.
“Be cautious about getting involved,” she said.
Rush does not think that iWatch will make Penn students more inclined to send in tips since most of them probably do not know about it.
College freshman Nirali Butala agreed. “I can’t imagine Penn students reporting to this app,” she said.
Monika Haebich, a College freshman, thinks that people will be afraid of the consequences of sending in tips through the app since there is always the fear of discovery.
“But even if not a lot of people use the app, those that do use it could really help the police out,” Haebich said.
“Even though it’s only been a week, there’ve been some good tips. But we do need to investigate to see where the tips lead,” Roth said.