Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims speaks to the media about her office's new mobile application. Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
Do you need the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office?
There’s an app for that.
Sheriff’s Margaret Mims announced a free app for smart phones and other smart devices is now available. It allows the public to interact with and get help from her agency without having to do it by phone or in person.
“As social media gains traction across our population, we have the ability to keep up, and we have the ability to reach out to the community that we serve now in a more modern, updated way,” she told reporters gathered at the sheriff’s headquarters today for her announcement.
“You can do many things with this app, like you can do from our website. You can do inmate searches, you can start your application for a concealed weapon permit, you can request house checks — because we still do that if you live in our service area,” said Mims, listing some of the functions of the app.
“You can call and contact Valley Crime Stoppers with crime tips. You can also give us feedback — good of bad — on this app on information you want us to have on our personnel, and that way we can find out about how we are doing in the community,” said Mims, who added that the app was launched about three weeks ago to be tested out before today’s announcement.
Tony Botti, a sheriff’s spokesman, said Mims had discussed wanting to develop an app for her agency about a year ago, and soon after that the Sheriff’s Office received a postcard from a company offering to develop one.
“They were pricey,” so the department started shopping around among other app developers, one of which wanted $30,000 to develop one and a $10,000 annual subscription fee.
Botti said the department decided to contract with Apex Mobile east of Irvine, which charged the Sheriff’s Office a more reasonable $2,450 development fee and a $1,900 annual subscription fee.
Other functions of the app include the ability to apply for Sheriff’s Office jobs, report crimes or crime trends, access the agency’s staff directory to contact employees directly and to sign up for the agency’s Seconds 2 Survive program, in which deputies will come out to businesses to train workers on what to do if somebody with a gun is on the premises firing at people or threatening to do so.
Mims said she has been testing the app on her phone, “and it works pretty good. It’s very convenient and, again, it’s just another way to reach out and make contact and keep in touch with our community.”
During the press conference, the sheriff also urged the public to sign up for a separate online service to notify the public about emergencies in Fresno County and resources available to them, including locations of shelters for people displaced by fires and other disasters.
“With the current hurricane, for instance, in the Southeast, one of the things law enforcement advised the communities [was] to be ready and be on your own for 72 hours. So preparation is very important, and you need to know what to be prepared for,” Mims told the reporters.
“And we have a new notification system called ‘Everbridge.’ This is an opt-in application, so you opt in — you register and you get information about things that are going on, including fires, natural disasters, or information in general about what’s happening in Fresno County,” with an option of getting voice messages on your home or cell phone or getting text messages, she said.
Mims likened the system to a modernized version of the old civil defense sirens.
“It is a mass notification system, and it allows us to inform everyone of potential safety issues.”
Get the app
The Fresno County Sheriff’s app is available for free at the iTunes and Google Play stores.