Grant money provides Petersburg PD with new mobile app, laptops for officers

PETERSBURG, Va. — Police departments across the country have long said that in order to solve crimes, they have to rely on voices within the communities they serve.

For a number of years, calls to CrimeSolvers or CrimeStoppers have resulted in successful anonymous tips.

Now, the Petersburg Police Department is creating a new way to connect with the community members they swore to protect.

“We wanted to create some type of platform where they could stay connected with the Police Department,” Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian said. “In today’s society, everybody carries a cell phone.”

And that is exactly where the Petersburg Police Department went – mobile. Using grant money, the department went looking for a developer to build an app that would allow users to see street closures, traffic problems, and the weekly crime report.

It would also allow them to submit tips as well.

“If you want to submit anonymous information, you can submit information through the app as well,” Christian said.

The app, which went live just a week ago, had a great grand opening during Tuesday’s National Night Out, according to Chief Christian.

“A lot of seniors were really interested in seeing this app and us assisting them in putting it on their phones, so it was a big hit for us on National Night Out.”

The key for any program to be successful is the potential for anonymity that is available to its users.

“Not everyone wants to come forward, not everyone wants to come to the police department, and most people dont want to leave their name,” Christian said. “But this opens up another avenue for people to communicate and feel safe at doing so.”

The grant money provided to the department will also be used to help keep officers out on the street longer – 100 new heavy-duty laptops were provided to every Petersburg Police Officer.

“It’s a great day,” Officer First Class Michael Babukovic said. “We won’t have to constantly come back to headquarters to do our reports.”

The $400,000 grant allowed for the purchase of the laptops, which will soon change how officers on patrol operate.

“Now we’ll be able to sit in our area, be visible, and complete our reports,” Babukovic said. “I think it’s a great morale booster for the officers. I know it is for myself, the ability to be able to do my work quicker, after, and still be available to the city.”

Chief Christian wanted to emphasize that the new technology coming into the Petersburg Police Department has not cost taxpayers one dime, as the funding was all provided through grant money.

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