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Washington County Sheriff's Office introduces mobile anti-crime app

The Washington County Sheriff's Office has launched a new app. (Submitted graphic)

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has another weapon in its anti-crime arsenal — its own mobile app.

The free app is the first in the area that connects users to a specific law enforcement agency, Sheriff Bill Hutton said.

While it’s not meant to be a substitute for calling 911, the app will enable citizens to use their smartphone to relay anonymous tips or suspicious activity. They can tap on the “Wanted” button to see mugshots and descriptions of fugitives.

“Upward of 80 percent of 911 calls come in on cellphones,” Hutton said. “People are looking at different ways to make contact. This is just another way of making contact.”

Tapping on the “Unsolved” button lets users view cold cases, including one where a severed head was discovered in Scandia 25 years ago.

In addition to its neighborhood crime watch capabilities, the app also helps users find other Washington County service agencies.

The “WebLinks” tab has a directory with links to other police departments, including Cottage Grove, Woodbury and St. Paul Park; the Washington County Attorney’s Office, State Patrol and Tubman domestic abuse counseling. Visitors can also find updates on road conditions by connecting to the Minnesota Department of Transportation website.

If you’re wondering where to pay a traffic ticket or how to obtain a copy of your fingerprints, tap on “FAQ.” Have a compliment or complaint? Hit “Commend” on the app.

The sheriff’s office plans to add a function that will allow users to access daily jail book-in reports and to update the “Missing” tab, which is under construction.

“We think this is just another way of making contact with the folks we serve,” Hutton said. “It’s just another avenue or way to make contact with us and for us them. We’ve been on Facebook. This is just another tool.”

The app was designed by sheriff’s Cmdr. Brian Mueller during a two-year collaboration with a California company, CloudspaceMobile. The application is available for all mobile devices and tablets on the Apple and Android platforms, via the Apple App Store and Google Play.  

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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