Opinion: A crime app for smartphones

POSTED: 11/22/11 7:09 AM

Yes we know – kudos for law enforcement. The recent series of arrests have netted a number of suspects that were involved in this year’s murder spree that started with the killing of Amador Jones on April 16. That we now have a bunch of suspects in custody is great news.
We remember the frustration at the police and the prosecutor’s office about this continuously recurring issue: people refuse to talk. That makes investigations needlessly complicated and also expensive.
In the Netherlands they have a app for that, and we think that this is something worth considering. Already the police has a web site (depolitiezoekt.nl), but the app for smartphones became an immediate hit after its launch last week.
Shortly after the launch, the app was downloaded already 4,500 times. Within minutes after images of threats against a cashier at a supermarket appeared on the app, 3,500 people went to the web site to have a look at the pictures.
Bart Driessen of the Amsterdam-Amstelland police force who set up the site is impressed with these numbers. “It is an awful lot,” he said. The more people look at these images, the larger the chance that somebody will recognize someone.”
The smartphone app is available for iphones and Android smartphones. Users who download the app get a message as soon as the police call for help to solve a crime.
The web site is immensely popular and registers on some days more than 100,000 visitors.
These are obviously not numbers we would ever reach in St. Maarten, but that is also not necessary. The attraction of the web site and the app for smartphones is obviously that people are able to participate in crime-solving (at least – in helping with an investigation by supplying the police with information) an anonymously.
We do have an anonymous tip line, but we’re pretty sure that a web site and an app for smartphones would appeal to a lot of law-abiding citizens. The reactions we have seen in recent weeks to the arrests of serious criminal suspect shows that the police have a lot of support. If people get modern tools at their disposal, plenty of them will be more than willing to help.

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