New app from DPS encourages people to report suspicious activity
ABILENE, Texas —
Nearly a month after the fatal shooting at Santa Fe High School, Texas lawmakers are taking steps to make schools safer, but it is not just schools that need to be made safer in Texas.
The Texas Department of Public Safety launched the "iWatchTexas" app last week, which aims to keep the entire state of Texas safe from violence by making it easier to report suspicious activity.
"After a major crime has occurred you have people, a lot of people, come forward with these little things that they saw, but didn't act on because they really either didn't know or thought it was a waste of time," said Sgt. Frederick Biddle of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Biddle said that submitting reports can be done anonymously and the information will be kept confidential.
"It goes to a crime analyst in Austin and they will act on it," said Biddle.
It only takes five minutes to submit a crime tip through the app and users can simply fill in their information, what happened, where it happened, who was involved and even rate what they saw by the level of suspicion they thought it raised, among other things.
DPS lists the following behaviors or activities as things that people should report through the app:
- Comments made regarding killing or harming someone.
- Strangers asking questions about building security features and procedures.
- Briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package is left behind.
- Cars or trucks are left in no-parking zones at important buildings.
- Chemical smells or fumes that are unusual for the location.
- People requesting sensitive information, such as blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules, without any indication of why they need to know that kind of sensitive information.
- Purchasing supplies that could be used to make bombs or weapons, or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.
- Taking photographs or videos of security features, such as cameras or checkpoints.
"If it looks suspicious to you, it probably is. Trust your instincts on this. It's better to report it and find nothing than to not report it and have a disaster," said Biddle.
The app is free to download on any smart phone device and even people that do not have any kind of a smart device can still submit tips about potential suspicious activity at www.iwatchtexas.org.
The app is not meant for emergencies and anybody that is experiencing an emergency is still advised to call 911.