A smartphone app called tip411 lets law enforcement personnel engage community members on issues of public safety.
It allows police departments to send alerts to residents. It also provides a way for people to give tips anonymously, according to information on its website.
The app’s pitch to law enforcement agencies: “Engage the public as a force multiplier by creating awareness through community alerts, expanding your reach through social media and giving the ability for citizens to provide immediate, anonymous tips and information to help fight crime.”
The benefit to schools: “Students are often afraid to come forward with information about potential violence, drugs, bullying and other issues. Whether you’re a university, school district or individual school, tip411 provides the tools to overcome this hurdle.”
For community organizations: “Adding anonymous tips via text message, smartphone apps or web tips will enhance your established telephone hotlines. tip411 will help you fight drug and alcohol abuse, insurance and Medicare fraud, financial crimes, wildlife poaching and much more.”
During the Sept. 17 meeting of the Massena Village Board of Trustees, Police Chief Adam J. Love requested permission to spend $2,000 a year for the first two years to have the department make use of the app. He recognized its value in communicating with residents about matters of great importance.
“Chief Love said the app would allow them to get information out to subscribers instantaneously. It might be an advisory to stay away from certain areas because of a fire or water break, or information about a crime they were trying to solve,” according to a story published Sept. 18 by the Watertown Daily Times. “If the department was looking for an individual, subscribers could log on and anonymously report information.”
However, Trustee Francis J. Carvel was concerned with how much the app would cost the village in the years ahead. Mayor Timothy J. Currier and Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire voted in favor of the proposal, while Mr. Carvel and Trustee Albert C. Deshaies opposed it. Trustee Christine M. Winston was excused from the meeting, so the motion did not pass.
“Mr. LeBire said it would be $2,000 to renew it for a second year,” the story reported. “But that amount was subject to change 60 days from Sept. 6, the date it was quoted.”
“How much is it going to be five years from now?” Mr. Carvel asked.
His concern over rising costs is understandable. It’s his job as an elected official to question how expensive such a program will be in the near future.
But the village wouldn’t need to commit to paying whatever fees the app required for a lengthy period of time. If trustees find out that the price tag will be higher than they believe it’s worth, don’t renew it.
They should agree to pay the $2,000 per year for the first two years and see how well the program works out. If expenses go up considerably, they’re under no obligation to keep financing it.
But they won’t know any of this until they try it out. Mr. Love is convinced this would benefit the village, and he should be given the opportunity to see if it pans out the way be suspects it will.
Trustees will have the option of ceasing to use the app down the road. However, they’ll miss the chance to see if it proves its cost if they bypass it at this point.