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DeKalb police follow iWatch app for tips

Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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DeKALB – In the month since iWatch DeKalb went live, the DeKalb police have received at least 15 tips from the public.

While none of the tips have led to an arrest, they have allowed officers to establish more contact with the community, said officer Chad McNett, the DeKalb police’s community relations liaison.

“We do anticipate making some good cases and arrests based on some of these tips,” McNett said.

iWatch DeKalb is a mobile app that allows users to submit anonymous tips to DeKalb police. It is available for free at the App Store for Apple and the Play Store for Google.

iWatch DeKalb was developed by iThinQware Inc., an Addison, Texas-based company. The company has developed similar apps for law enforcement agencies in other communities.

DeKalb police paid $2,790 in startup costs for the app, and then $95 a month for 36 months, said Deputy Chief Wes Hoadley.

Tips can be submitted in three different ways. People can call the tip line, send a text message to the tip line or send a complete tip. The complete tip option has forms people can fill out, such as address and suspect information.

People can also select an option that keeps them anonymous. McNett said each tip is identified with a tag number.

DeKalb police officers are able to message people back through the app if they need more information, McNett said, but it does not provide the person’s number.

DeKalb police follow up on all of the tips they receive, McNett said, adding that he believes many people use the app responsibly.

“The only way to determine in a case like that is to check it,” McNett said. “None of the tips we’ve gotten so far have been hoaxes.”

McNett said police have received several suspicious person reports, as well as a tip about people speeding on Taylor Street that led to tickets.

McNett said they also received a tip about a woman who appeared to have collapsed near Jewel-Osco, 1320 Sycamore Road. The woman accidentally mixed her medications with an energy drink, and she was taken to the hospital, McNett said.

Outside DeKalb, Sycamore police and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office have considered buying apps for their departments. The app for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, for instance, could provide information about county roads or the local jail, said Sheriff Roger Scott.

“We have not developed nearly as far as what DeKalb has done,” Scott said.

Sycamore police Lt. Darrell Johnson said the department has a Facebook page and people can email tips to the department through its web page at sycamorepd.com. If the person requests anonymity, they try to honor that, Johnson said.

“Sometimes we need more information to be effective, and we need to contact people,” Johnson said. “Sometimes [the tips] are too vague. It’d be nice to contact the reporting party for more information.”

Regardless of the format – email, Facebook or mobile apps – any information given to officers needs to be verified.

“Everything has to be taken in and verified in one manner or another,” Scott said.

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