Cortland County sheriff’s Capt. Rob Derksen tapped the small square icon on his phone, bringing him to a menu page, where a picture of a sheriff’s vehicle was located at the top of the screen followed by several options: submit a tip; corrections/inmates; divisions and more.
Derksen was showing off the department’s new app.
“Most everybody you know is carrying a phone,” Sheriff Mark Helms said. “It’s a great tool to keep us up with the times.”
Helms said he started talking to TheSheriffApp.com, a division of OCV, LLC, which has made apps for more than 20 sheriff’s departments, including Oneida and Erie counties. He got the idea for creating an app after hearing about the use of them from other sheriffs through the state Sheriff’s Association, Suzy Keenan, a communications strategist with OCV said in a news release. The cost was not available.
“Mobile apps and social media are the trends for grassroots sharing of information today,” she said.
To get the app
The app is available for iOS on iTunes app store and for Android on Google Play app store.
The department still urges people to call 911 in an emergency.
Helms said once he had an idea for what he wanted the app to look like and what information he wanted it to provide, its creation took only a couple of months.
The app features several options, including submitting a tip, looking up inmates in the jail, paying bail and allows victims to sign up for notifications for when a person is released from jail.
“What I’m hopeful for is the tips,” Derksen said. “People know what’s going on in the community.”
He said many people already share tips through the department’s Facebook page. The app offers them another avenue, where they could do it anonymously.
The selling point for Helms was hearing how it helped other departments in their corrections division.
“It kind of cut down on some of the calls they were getting,” Helms said. “I think it’s going to help with our corrections side with families. A lot of stuff can be done by phone now than actually having to come down to the office here to do it.”
That includes paying someone’s bail or adding money to their commissary account.
The app also helps victims through a sign up with the Victim Information and Notification Everyday system.
“God forbid you were the victim of a crime, you could sign up and when that person gets released you would be notified through whatever mechanism you choose,” Derksen said.
It will also be a good tool to alert people about road closures or weather announcements, Helms said.
“It’s a means of reaching out, communicating information,” Derksen said. “That information has already been out there but now there’s a hub — on central location through the app.”