Can an App Fight Crime? COPA Says YES!

Imaging fighting crime with a few swipes on your smartphone. Well, that’s exactly what Miami-Dade Police are hoping you will do with their soon-to-be-released COPA application. COPA stands for Community On Patrol Application and it will be available on Android and iOS devices sometime in Q1 of 2016.

“We know there is a percentage of our population that want to help out the police, but they want to do so anonymously,” explains MDPD Sergeant Tyra Griffin, “And with COPA, they’ll be able to communicate with us on their terms.”

In late December, Miami-Dade Police invited Citizens’ Crime Watch and their top volunteers to come down to the Doral Police Headquarters Building to see an early version of COPA in action. A tour of the RTC (Real-time Center) showed several officers monitoring computer screens and using phones and keyboards to communicate incoming information back out to the proper precinct or municipality.

Executive Director of Miami-Dade County’s Citizens' Crime Watch Carmen Caldwell said, “This is a wonderful new tool which allows citizens to be additional eyes and ears for our police departments.”

The application not only provides users the ability to submit anonymous information, but goes well beyond the traditional phone call as well. Users can automatically submit their geographical location, send pictures and/or video, add text messages and even ask for follow-up communication from the police.

Once the RTC command center receives information from a COPA user, it is displayed in real-time, where it is analyzed and sent to the local police department to take action.

“This is not a replacement for 9-1-1. COPA is designed as a non-emergency tool where people can report a suspicion, potential dangerous situation or anything they think the police should be aware of,” explained Sergeant Griffin. Commander Jose Rivero, who is heading up the technology build and deployment of COPA, explained, “We are trailblazing a bit here. The Mayor had a vision to leverage the 2.6-million people of the County and to penetrate the neighborhoods that traditionally don’t like interacting with the police. We are working with a vendor to build a new tool to strengthen our policing ability throughout Miami-Dade County, and we believe many will find this a more comfortable way to report things.”

Based on early feedback and the way people today are using texting to communicate, this looks like a winner idea. The proof will be in how many people use it. Will you?