MARIPOSA — As digital technology constantly alters the modes and methods of communication, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has rolled out a new app that Sheriff Doug Binnewies describes as “a key tool to keep us connected to the community we serve.”
“More and more of our society is really looking to apps and other methods of communication for information, like one-stop digital portals. Our app provides something like one-stop shopping when it comes to the services provided by local law enforcement,” Binnewies said.
Public Information Officer Kristie Mitchell said, “it is highly functional, and has a lot of capacity.”
The “emergency alerts” icon, allows users to receive details on emergency situations or weather alerts, and they can also sign-up for the Everbridge emergency notification program whereby text messages are provided by the sheriff’s office containing important or emergency alerts.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback so far,” added Binnewies. “We’re still making little tweaks to the system as we move forward, but it’s really looking like a big plus for us and the county.”
One function of the app could make a significant contribution to the efforts of law enforcement.
“We get a lot of information from the public, but the ‘submit a tip’ function has the potential to provide us with instant, direct and photographic information,” Mitchell explained.
Through the “submit a tip” function the user can contact the sheriff’s office about a current incident or situation, and can also submit a photo at the same time.
“We’ve never had the ability to receive photos instantly of an incident that may be taking place at that moment,” Mitchell said. “This really puts eyes everywhere.”
This function of the app is to provide information regarding an ongoing investigation “and not to report a crime in progress” according to the disclaimer. “To report a crime, please DIAL 9-1-1,” it concludes.
Residents can submit photographs of suspicious vehicles in their neighborhoods, a dangerous situation that the sheriff’s office needs to be made award of, or multiple other circumstances.
The tips can be submitted anonymously since the name, email and phone number entries are optional. The “submit a tip” function also can provide the user’s longitude and latitude for location, as well as the time and date of the incident.
All of which of course depends on the smart phone’s access to a strong enough cell signal, which in mountainous terrain like Mariposa County, can be challenging.
There is also a “contact us” icon which provides phones numbers, addresses, email addresses, and hours of operation for several of the different divisions within the sheriff’s office.
In addition, there are also icons that allow the user to check county road conditions, conduct an inmate search, and a direct link to the state’s Megan’s Law website. The app is linked to the sheriff’s office page on the official Mariposa County website.
An additional role of the app that could be a boon to visitors, or even new residents, is the “where am I” function. This function provides an approximate address, along with latitude and longitude, plus a ‘share my location’ capacity that can be sent to the sheriff’s office.
There are several other tasks the app can perform, including a link under “press releases” that allows the user to view the previous day’s daily call log.
“As a tourist destination, we can reach out to in-bound visitors with information and references to all our other resources,” Binnewies noted.
“Considering the size of our department, our cost was very minimal,” Binnewies stated. “It’s an investment that increases our level of service to the citizens of Mariposa County.”
The new digital application (app) is available to download free from either Google Play or The App Store, and it is functional on any smartphone platform.