With all of the technology innovation that takes place in Mountain View, it was only a matter of time before the city's finest joined in.
“We hope that the people who live, work and play in Mountain View download and use the app to communicate with the department,” said in a press release. “There are many topics for crime tips and various forms already built into the app to make things easy for the user."
According to the department, the public can check for the latest news, social media postings, directions, department contacts, feedback and questions, department surveys, submitting crime tips and more.
"We are attempting to remove much of the guess work and allow the public to conveniently choose a topic and make sure that message gets to the correct person,” Vermeer said.
To be sure, some police departments have been targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union for "the adoption of surveillance technology" for investigations through mobile phone geo-location programs and social networking sites. This past week, the ACLU sent public record requests to 375 law enforcement agencies across the nations, which included 20 in Northern California. The MVPD was not among them.
"We have no interest in tracking down a tipster by phone or email, absolutely no interest whatsoever to find out the identity of the person who gave the tip," said Liz Wylie, spokeswoman for the MVPD, who added that for active crime investigations, however, social media is a tool for the department.
But when it comes down to tips, "we respect anonymity like gold. We really need the tip not the people," she said. "We don't want to ruin that. It would destroy the community trust."
According to the department individuals remain anonymous when they submitted their forms because a "no-reply" email delivers the tip. If they did want to be contacted, it would be up to them to provide an email address or phone number. Users also can upload photos and GPS information with the app forms.
A request for comment to app developer WiredBlue about what assurances Mountain View residents had about their privacy was not received by time of publication.
As the MVPD introduces its new mobile apps, they also wanted to remind the general public about their other social media efforts, like Twitter, which the department has used since October 2008 and was the first agency in California to do so.
Regulary updated, the Facebook Fan Page and the Chief’s Blog provide additional platforms for public safety news and information.
But the department emphasized that social media does not substitute for any emergency situation. All emergencies should continue to be reported via 9-1-1.