One of the nation’s preeminent law enforcement communication services will be coming to Belle Plaine by the end of next week. What’s more, the city will be the first in the state to use it, according to its developers.
“See Something, Send Something,” a mobile application available on Apple and Android devices allows citizens to remotely and anonymously give the Belle Plaine Police Department crime tips from the comfort, convenience and security of their cell phones; all they need to do is download the app and set it up on their devices. For Stolee, the fact the app is free for citizens is just a bonus.
“It’ll work perfectly for what we need it to for the community and the schools, Stolee said. “It’s an app that had absolutely everything we were looking for.”
The app’s key feature which Stolee lauded was its giving citizens the ability to communicate with law enforcement in real time through sending pictures and text messages. Real time, live-chat information could be paramount to law enforcement when dealing with dynamic situations such as suspects fleeing crime scenes or events in which victims may be in hiding, Stolee added. The app offers solutions for such situations.
In events of a perpetrator fleeing the scene of a crime, for instance, the app allows law enforcement to set up a virtual perimeter, “or a geofence,” within which BPPD could alert those with the app about the fleeing suspect and can communicate identifying characteristics and clothing. Thanks to a feature added just this November, app users and law enforcement will have some amount of access to facial recognition technology through comparing images app users send in with already submitted tip images.
Geofences also have the capability to service pulse alerts, notifications to app users that are sent to devices upon individuals’ entering a designated perimeter. Such a notification might come into play if a car accident occurs at an intersection and requires a street to be blocked off.
Stolee noted that the app is not just for emergency incidents. As an extension of The Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign, See Something, Send Something allows users to report suspicious, potentially criminal activity as well as incidents like downed trees or other events that warrant investigation, according to the application’s website.
Being on Minnesota’s front line for the product, which has found a home in 18 states for Stolee, is an exciting prospect, but a challenging prospect at that. But with BPPD’s implementation of body cameras, he said, prepared him for the task.
“It’s a leap of faith like we had with the body cameras,” Stolee said. “But with this app, if people utilize it, we can find a lot more uses for it.”
Stolee stated that he has the full support of those in leadership positions in Belle Plaine Schools. And added that SSSS could have a major effect in mitigating live shooting crises should such an event arise. The police chief added that by fall, he hopes to give students a fully flared instructional session for effectively using the app on their devices.
The developers of the application stated that the BPPD is right where they need to be when it comes to the future of public safety.
"Chief Stolee is progressive and being proactive in school and community security,"Kevin Angell, CEO of the Florida-based SSSS said.
One might expect that a service of this nature might cost many thousands of dollars. Chief Stolee noted that the BPPD will pay $50 a month for the service as an introductory rate. Stolee also state that he has no concerns about the security and privacy of app users’ private information being breached, as such information will be stored in remote and secure servers off the site of the police station.