The Hinesville Police Department is putting the power of information at people’s fingertips.
Chief Lloyd Slater unveiled the HPD’s app to city council members, who in turn were dazzled.
“I think it is an awesome app,” said Council member Vicky Nelson.
“This is impressive,” added Council member Jason Floyd.
Chief Slater walked council members through the app’s features, adding it remains a work in progress and the HPD will continue to tweak it.
“We are not the first law enforcement agency to have an app,” the chief said, “but we are one of the best currently in the state today. We’re obsessed with being the best and we’ll do what it takes to do that.”
Chief Slater said it is his responsibility to address the public safety issues of today and to prepare for the issues that may come. To that end, the app, he said, will keep the local and virtual communities up-to-date on potential risks through push notifications.
But not everybody is interested in downloading an app from a police department, the chief acknowledged.
“But it is my responsibility I can notify as many citizens as possible in an emergency. How do we draw people in? They may very well be interested in something else,” he said.
The home screen of the app features a scroll that can be used for alerts, such as a missing person, and a rotating carousel of pictures featuring the police department and some of its activities.
The main menu page also has the chief ’s message to the public, along with how to join the HPD, traffic information, how to request records, municipal court information and the more has links to city codes, code enforcement and even on how to leave an information tip.
“You don’t have to leave your name. You don’t have to leave anything,” the chief said, adding those who submit tips also can submit pertinent photos.
Another menu brings up community links, including having the council members’ districts and the names of elected and appointed officials at fingertips. Under Community Engagement, app users can find out about such events as National Night Out, Shop With a Cop, Prom Promise and even find out about vehicles the HPD and other agencies are selling as surplus on govdeals.com.
There is also a button for city resources, including Manna House, Homeless Prevention Program and the Tri-County Protective Agency, and there is a button for special needs registry.
The more tab brings up requesting house and wellness checks, along with a citizens survey and how to submit suggestions.
“We’re curious — we want to know what you’re thinking, what you want to see, tell me,” Chief Slater said. “Are we going in the right direction?”
Another button brings up a community calendar, and events are added as permits for events are filed. The app also have directions to events. Another button brings up information on Fort Stewart.
“We can’t conceivably have an app without including Fort Stewart,” Chief Slater said. “You tap that and it will bring up Fort Stewart’s information. You can scroll for half a day for all they information they have pertaining to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.”
The third menu is for public safety and has buttons for Be On the Look Out for (BOLO alerts), emergency management, emergency contacts, which has links to crisis lines, poison control, local hospitals and even Contact-a-Nurse, crime maps, how to perform CPR and more. There is also a button for missing persons.
“We have some individuals who get lost,” the chief said. “We like to put that information out.”
Another button shows where registered sex offenders live. Another button links to emergency management agencies, and Chief Slater pointed out hurricane season is just days away.
And under the What You Need to Know button, the HPD can provide updates on changing laws or new laws, many of which go into effect during the summer.
“A lot of people don’t know what the updates are until they’re pulled over and given a citation for it,” Chief Slater said.
The HPD tested the app, getting responses from its push notifications from as far away as California, New York and Connecticut.
“You’ll be interested. You’ll be entertained,” the chief said. “We’re taking an Aristotelian method to this. We’re educating and entertaining.”