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New police app may impact how citizens report crimes and tips

| Nov 20, 2020 | criminal law

Law enforcement in North Carolina and elsewhere often rely on tips and information from the community when investigating possible crimes. However, some people who wish to remain anonymous when giving tips or sharing information with the police and are therefore not comfortable with in-person meetings or potentially trackable calls. A new app in Wilmington aims to address this by giving citizens a way to report crimes electronically. This could have a few implications when it comes to criminal justice and defense in the county.

The app is entitled “Wilmington NC PD” and was developed by a company called tip411. The police hope the new app can replace their “text-a-tip” service, as well as expand electronic communication between the police and citizens. Those who have the app can also use it to monitor new alerts or quickly call the non-emergency line if needed.

The police chief noted that the app is not only for providing tips to help solve past crimes, but also can be a prevention tool. In a statement, he urged citizens to use the app if they know of a violent crime that is being planned or at risk of happening. The police department will also keep its text messaging line open for those without smartphones.

Should the app be effective, it may impact the types of tips coming into police and the evidence involved in a criminal investigation. Since citizens are being urged to not only report crimes, but help prevent them by sharing information, there may be many uses for this app in the criminal justice system. Those who are accused of a crime following a tip or witness statement can work with the North Carolina lawyer to understand their rights and defense options.