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State News

December 4, 2012

Warrants? Most Wanted? Sheriff has an app for that

ANNISTON, Ala. — The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office is becoming more accessible to smart phone users.

Sheriff Larry Amerson’s office said it has partnered with the Appriss Corp. to create a free application for Android and iPhone users to provide the public with up-to-date information on crime in Calhoun County. According to the Appriss Corp. website, the company has served thousands of communities in nearly every state since its startup in 1994.

“App” is a shorthand name for programs designed to run on mobile computing devices such as smartphones. Amerson said he sees his office’s app as “a natural progression . we’re a connected online society now.”

The app, which can be downloaded by searching app stores for “Calhoun County Sheriff,” is the first iPhone app offered by a law enforcement agency in the state, Amerson said. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office already has an app for Android users, he said.

“We’ve been toying with the idea for a couple of years,” Amerson said. “We’re very pleased to be able to offer that as a service to the community.”

The app contains a most-wanted list with names and photos of suspects, emergency alerts, and a list of sex offenders’ names, photos and addresses with maps to their location.

Crime victims can also use a service through the app known as Victim Information and Notification Everyday, which allows victims to search pending criminal cases and determine the custody status of offenders, day or night.

The app allows users to easily email crime tips directly to the Sheriff’s Office. There’s also a page for lawyers and bail bonds companies to advertise to potential customers, though none had been listed as of Monday.

When users tap the settings page on the last section of the app, they will find they can log in to their Facebook pages to post information about inmates, sex offenders, most wanted offenders and people with outstanding child support warrants directly to the social media site.

“The more that we have our community involved the more effective we should be at doing our job,” said Amerson.

The sheriff said he wants to ensure the public has access to information that could help deputies make arrests. He said warrant information was once kept quiet from the general public, but law enforcement attitudes have changes.

“We’ve come to the realization that the wanted person likely knows they are wanted,” Amerson said. “They would use that anonymity to stay out of our view.”

Now the deputies are operating under the philosophy that “the more people who know about it, the better off we’ll be,” Amerson said.

The sheriff said it could take several days before warrant information is posted on the app. Once the deputies have exhausted all their resources trying to find the individual, the information would be posted for public assistance.

The Sheriff’s Office has also updated its website with a crime map, where users can look up reported offenses by crime category or date. Amerson said the goal of the crime map is to keep the public updated on criminal activity in the area, with the expectation the public will in turn report crimes.

“We’re in the information business, the more information people give us the better we’re going to do,” Amerson said. “We’re trying to keep those lines of communication open.”

Information from: The Anniston Star

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