INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A safety communication app initially used by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in September is expanding to more users as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament gets underway in Indianapolis.
The IMPD and the makers of the Relay app said the app is literally a direct connection to the closest officer to you in a non-emergency.
“For all the basketball that’s happening if you’re visiting Indianapolis, it’ll work no matter where you are in Indianapolis,” explained John Palmer, vice president of Product and Marketing for Relay Software.
The app lets you report non-emergency safety concerns or crime and immediately share it with nearby officers.
“Public safety is a responsibility not only of IMPD, but everybody that lives and visits Marion County,” said Dane Nutty, Executive Director of Indy Public Safety Foundation. “This gives us all a tool that we can utilize to connect with each other and make a safer community.”
Here’s how it works, say you see something that concerns you, but isn’t an emergency. You create a report via the app and snap some pictures.
“Complete the form, send that in. It gets immediately routed to the laptops of the officers nearby. Those officers will then see it. They can immediately respond to you, send messages back asking any clarifying questions,” said Palmer. “They can send photos to you. You can send additional photos back. It’s just like texting your friends.”
IMPD Lt. Tabatha McLemore with the department’s homeless unit said people have connected with them via the app to help the homeless.
“They can snap a picture of that person. We know what they look like, we know what they’re wearing. We can look for them. That gives us a great opportunity to meet that person, interact with them, and get them in touch with the resources they need. Or get them the items they need to help them,” said McLemore.
IMPD started using the app in a pilot program in September and decided to expand it ahead of March Madness.
“It just made sense to expand that out. Not only for the rest of the city, so everybody can benefit from it. But, so that we can also leverage and enhance public safety when we have such a large, very important event going on,” said Nutty.
IMPD said the app will help as the city welcomes thousands of people to town for the Big Dance.
“This is going to be great for March Madness because we’re going to have people that are not familiar with our city. So even if it was something as simple as they were lost or something like that, they could even send a Relay message in for that and we’d be able to help them,” said McLemore.
She also said given the current climate, the app will help build a bridge between the police and the community.
“It’s going to help get that trust back and for them to see that just because there are some officers out there that have done bad, we’re not all bad,” she said. “We’re here to help. It gives them that first-hand contact. They are able to have that positive interaction with the police. I think it’s going to help us build that bridge back and regain that trust.”
The app is free and available now to download. You can find it on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.