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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fort Thomas Police Rolling Out New App To Engage Community Tipsters

SentiGuard is available for free in the App Store or Google Play. 
Quick. What's the most powerful tool to help deter crime in today's technology-driven society? License plate readers? Rumbler intersection clearing system? What about drones? The Fort Thomas Police Department is hoping that the next best thing to creating an already safe community even more secure is already in the homes - or pockets - of its residents.

SentiGuard, a free app available on the App Store or Google Play, will be rolling out in Fort Thomas this month.

SentiGuard lets users send detailed reports, or anonymous tips, to their local law enforcement straight from their iOS or Android powered devices. Users who download it will be able to post pictures, videos and/or audio files. All media is encrypted and safely stored.

Fort Thomas Police Detective, Adam Noe said that SentiGuard is being tested in select markets and Fort Thomas was able to receive the full-services of the company at no cost. In Kentucky, Dayton has used this service. Noe said that they have been very happy with the way it's working.

Noe noted that it should not be used in emergency situations.

"The other great thing about the app is that we will be able to send push notifications to residents who have signed up for the service regarding public safety. We can also use this as a way to communicate directly with those who are reporting a crime in real time," said Noe.

According to SentiGuard presentation, the app is a "force-multiplying tool that allows ordinary citizens to become effective, crimefighting allies. (They) take the neighborhood watch concept and expand it to a whole new level."

Det. Adam Noe discuses SentiGuard. FTM file. 
"We need to find a way to advance and embrace the new technological world. SentiGuard will provide us with instant communication with our residents," said Noe. "We're hoping it will drastically help our investigations. People that may not feel comfortable providing information can still do so anonymously."

Noe, who had 11 years of police experience before joining the Fort Thomas Police Department in March 2012, said that he has been utilizing recording devices on the job in some capacity since 2001. "We were ahead of the curve with vest cameras in Fort Thomas. Technology is trending that way. We are hoping that this app will be another way we can continue to reach out to the public and serve them in the best way possible."

On a privacy note: personal information stored on the phone through this app is not sent to the department unless the user chooses to send it. The app does not track a user’s location unless the app is being used. Users can easily turn their location on or off within the app’s settings button.

Fort Thomas will have a free one year trial to use the service, at which point they may be charged to continue. SentiGuard should be available for use in Fort Thomas by Friday, July 3.

1 comment:

  1. Warning to potential users of this app:
    Throughly read through the user agreement before you blindly accept it on this app. Specifically section 12) Indemnity!
    read it and understand it, and ask what I did... could I potentially be on the hook for a huge legal bill if this group is ever sued over content I was just trying to report to the police as a good citizen?? I want to be proactive, but I'm not putting my family's livelyhood on the line for a company that will someday likely be sued by a defense or class action attorney at some point down the road.

    Make no mistake, I think the app is a great premise operationally. I'd just like to see better protection for users before I'd recommend using this app to report something so legally sensitive as "crime".
    Perhaps I'll just use the camera in my phone to record data, and report the incident directly to law enforcement if and when it's prudent to do so. Also, if I enable location services on my camera, that covers the gps aspect of where and when the incident was recorded.