WLPD introduces new mobile app
In close-knit cities like West Linn, the police often depend on the community for tips and observations while patrolling.
With that in mind, the West Linn Police Department recently added a new tool for citizen outreach in the form of an iOS app called West Linn PD. The app, according to Sergeant Mike Francis, will initially serve as another way to push information out to the community. Later, the department hopes to expand its use of the app to allow for people to submit tips or even report a crime.
"We're in the early infancy of getting it loaded up with content, and I have to do some training with other PIOs (public information officers)," Francis said. "But the vision is that folks can download the app, and they can see basic police department news — what's going on, like the information bulletin about the burglary guy."
"Burglary guy" is referring to a post made to the app Aug. 22 with a description and sketch of a burglary suspect wanted by West Linn Police.
"We have 130-some odd municipal court warrants (outstanding)," Francis said. "We can put some of these folks in (the app) and maybe close some of those cases."
The app will also be used to spread awareness of upcoming events like the Emergency Preparedness Fair Sept. 28 or reading sessions with police officers at the West Linn Public Library. The more in depth features like filing reports, however, will have to wait a bit.
"I don't think we're going to cross this road quite yet, but it does have the ability for a basic report," Francis said. "We get a lot of calls where we don't really need an officer to come out to the home. With online reporting, a person could be assigned a case number at a later time.
"But we're still pretty old-fashioned and we want to get out to people's homes."
Francis said the department has been looking to create an app for several years now. It was only recently that Acting Police Chief Neil Hennelly found a service that would fit the department's needs and price range.
The app, which will be paid for with funds from the department's public outreach budget, charges a monthly subscription rate to WLPD that amounts to less than a cell phone bill, according to Francis.
On Aug. 23, a day after the app went live, a total of 61 people had downloaded it. Francis hoped that was just the start.
"If I can get close to what we've got in terms of followers on Facebook and Twitter, I'll be pretty pleased," he said. "The app itself is fantastic, and users can set up notifications (from the department)."
The app is available on iTunes and Google Play.