Local police agencies see how critical social media and cell phones are in the lives of the public. Many have jumped on the bandwagon and created apps where you can send in crime tips instantly.
The FBI just recently launched a new Wanted app. If you recognize a fugitive, you can send the information instantly through the app.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says its app has helped solve many crimes and put many people behind bars
“We've actually had a few drug house complaints and one of them where we went, we caught the suspects and closed down the drug house,” says Wendy Young, manager of dispatch for Hillsborough County for 14 years.
Young says people send in tips for everything. In just two months, the HCSO has received about 200
“Anywhere from a suspicious person in the park to a potential trespasser,” she said.
Mercy Badillo is always on her phone. She likes being able to help her community without having to call police or fill out paperwork.
“We can help each other out. Keep each other safe, that's what we want to do,” she said.
And Young says it's not just adults alerting police about issues.
“Other children are tipping in to say there is going to be a fight at the school bus or a fight at a location,” she said. “It helps teenagers at school if they don't want to talk to anyone in person. They can just tip the information to us. It’s like a text message.”
A dispatcher gets alerts from the app and responds to the person if they have additional information.
Larry McKinnon with the HCSO never imagined getting so much information from students.
“Many crimes that are committed in schools, many threats they see on social media that we investigate, many of those tips are coming from the kids,” he said.
And tt's not just Hillsborough. Several local agencies in Tampa Bay have similar apps:
· Pasco Sheriff's Office Mobile
· Tampa PD
· St. Petersburg Police
· HCSO Sheriff
· FBI Wanted
· Pinellas County
· Tampa 911 Incidents Monitor
Remember, that picture or tip you think might be nothing could help make your neighborhood safer.