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Mesa PD launches app to help them get closer to the public

Want to submit an anonymous tip to the police? Find crime info in your neighborhood? Well, Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead says — wait for it — there’s an app for that.

The Mesa Police Department launched a new mobile app Wednesday.  

“If we don’t use the public’s eyes to help not only to report crime but to help solve crime, we’re going to miss things,” Milstead said.

He used Boston marathon bombing investigation as an example. Law enforcement used the public’s photos and videos to help break the case.

It cost $30,000 to launch Mesa’s app. It’s paid for with money and property seized in police investigations.

The app’s developers say it’s one of the first police departments in the country to do so.

The department used the launch to show off all the other tech tools the Mesa Police Department uses, like officer-mounted cameras, mobile biometric gadgets to ID people in the field and electronic citations to cut paperwork.

In addition, the department uses a computer program to help predict crime hot spots.

Crime is at the lowest it's been since the 1960s, Milstead said. And he attributes a lot of that to targeting repeat offenders, engaging better with the community, and using technology to be effective even as the department has had to cut sworn officers and staff.

Retired Phoenix police commander Jeffeory Hynes says there’s a mountain of police technology to help departments do more with less.

“There’s just so much out there that the profession is having a hard time keeping up with it,” Hynes said. “But those who are embracing it are finding these tools to be an incredible asset.”

Hynes says any tool to help police keep in touch with the people they serve is a good thing.