Oshkosh Police Department promotes smartphone app for non-emergencies

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Oshkosh Police Department introduces a new smartphone app to help people living in the city more quickly report non-emergency situations.

It is listed in the App Store with a green icon and a curvy black line resembling the letter 'R'.

"It's going to be going live October 1 which coincides with October being National Crime Prevention Month," said Officer Kate Mann, public affairs/crime prevention with the Oshkosh Police Department.

The department is the first in the state to embrace the technology of the free 'Relay: Neighborhood Safety' app.

"We want to remind people that if it's an emergency, please continue to use 911. This app is only for non-emergency incidents," said Mann.

Anyone with a smartphone can download the app, and report incidents ranging from house and car thefts to erratic drivers to animal control concerns.

"You have to go on and make an account, and then you can take pictures, add information," said Mann. "Then once you submit it, it gets sent directly to the patrol officer's car and/or their cell phone."

With increased access comes an increased risk of abuse, but Mann tells Action 2 News every report includes the full name and email address of the person who submits it.

She adds the potential benefits of the app outweigh the possible drawbacks.

"It might make a quicker response," said Mann. "If citizens can send us photos of suspect vehicles or suspects, it may make it safer for officers, because we know what the person looks like and the situation going into it."

The Oshkosh Police Department plans to begin using 'Relay' on a six-month trial basis.

The app is available for download, but it will not go live in the department until October 1, 2019. Until then, non-emergencies should be reported to the front desk.

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