Could the NYPD be working on its own Citizens-type app to alert the public–and everyone from bodega workers to taxi drivers–in real time when a crime is happening? Could be.
The Citizen smartphone app already does that, drawing on 911 reports while also posting videos from crime scenes, fires and other emergency situations that are shot by users as the situation unfolds.
The NYPD and the mayor’s IT departments are working to “build out our system to communicate with our neighborhoods,” Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said at the end of a recent press conference without providing much in the way of specifics on what the system will entail.
Maddrey was speaking near the end of the press conference in which cops revealed they had captured the so-called hazmat killer who had engaged in a three borough crime spree over six days that included the murder of a deli worker on the Upper East Side on March 3, as well as robberies at a deli and a bagel store in Brooklyn and another robbery at a deli in the Bronx only minutes after he killed the deli worker on 81st and Third Ave in a botched robbery gone bad. The first Brooklyn robbery happened Feb. 25, six days before the murder on the UES.
In all four incidents the suspect was wearing a white hazmat suit but cops did not initially link all four robberies to the same person.
Maddrey said there needs to be a faster way to alert stores, bodegas, taxi drivers and the general public about crimes afoot.
“When this first robbery occurred the detectives bureau did put out a wanted poster, they did to put out a request for information, but we realize we have to build out our ability to communicate with our neighborhoods, our stores, our bodegas, our taxi drivers in a more efficient and quite frankly a faster way,” Maddrey said.
“Right now we are in the process of working with our ITB department, the mayor’s ITB office to build a communication system where members of the community, bodega association, taxi drivers could now communicate with the department and communicate with one another.”
“So when a robbery like this occurs,” he continued, “they will be able to put it out immediately and say there was a robbery incident at this location, be on the lookout, here’s a description, police notified.”
He indicated that work is already underway on the project. “This is something we have been trying to build out to start making sure we increase communication, we’re able to respond to these crimes faster and get more information as they occur.”
While the Citizen app has been praised for providing instant updates about crime and emergencies in a user’s immediate vicinity, it has also been criticized because its comments section can encourage paranoia or racism and sometimes incidents turn out to be completely unfounded.
Maddrey offered few details on what exactly the system is that the NYPD and the mayor’s office are trying to build out or if it has any kind of timetable. “We are going to work all the way through this,” he said. Adding it “requires us to send out things through the media to help expedite information and our ability to capture suspects quicker.”
“We realize we have to build out our ability to communicate with our neighborhoods, our stores, our bodegas, our taxi drivers in a more efficient and quite frankly a faster way.” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey