CrimePush: a New College Crime Reporting App

A student has developed a smartphone application that makes recording and reporting campus crimes as simple as pushing a button. While the app makes reporting crimes easier, it may also increase incidences of false police reports, which can lead to wasted police hours and possible convictions of innocent individuals.

Crime Reporting at the Push of a Button

CrimePush is a crime reporting smartphone app developed by a University of New Hampshire law school student that allows users to report a crime they witness via text, photo or video. The app has buttons for users to instantly report an altercation, vandalism, drug crime, sex crime, theft, harassment or a motor vehicle crash. Users can also send out a distress signal and check in with family and friends once they reach their destinations.

The free app for college students reports crimes to police in real time, providing them valuable evidence and the ability to immediately respond to crimes. For example, if a student witnesses an act of vandalism on a university building, campus police can respond immediately and use the photo, video or audio evidence the reporting student provided to build a case against the vandal.

The application became available in February, but has been further refined by university and police departments input. Absent from the refining process, however, were considerations for the individuals who may be falsely accused.

Is CrimePush a Push too Far?

Critics of the application point out that anonymity does not really exist with the new app. Evidence sent in by a student or the public could also be used against that person if they were acting illegally at the time they report a crime. A photo quickly snapped and sent to law enforcement may show evidence of drug use at a party that implicates the person reporting the crime.

Also, crime reporting at the push of a button may cause some to falsely report crimes before considering the context of what they are actually witnessing. For example, a student may report a theft if they spy someone wrestling with their locker after forgetting the combination for a lock and assume a crime is being committed. Not only does this waste police time and dollars, it may also falsely implicate an innocent individual in a crime.

CrimePush has become popular at several East Coast campuses, and may soon be making its way onto the University of Colorado-Boulder campus. Students, staff and campus police should weigh the costs and benefits of the CrimePush app before implementing it on campus. If you have been accused of a crime that may have been prompted by a false report, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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