Police encouraging Albertans to directly report criminal activity rather than on apps and social media

by Stephen Dafoe

The Alberta RCMP is encouraging Albertans to report crimes directly to police rather than rely on third-party public crime reporting apps. Police say while the apps may notify residents with safety alerts and crime sightings as neighbourhood watch programs would, the info does not get relayed to police.

Despite the popularity of crime apps, the Alberta RCMP encourages Albertans to directly call 911 or contact law enforcement so police have the information to follow up on the crime.

“App reports are dependant on the number of users and the level of engagement by users in an area,” said Superintendent Peter Tewfik, Alberta RCMP Officer in Charge of Crime Reduction Strategies. “As a result crime may appear hyper-localized in certain communities when in fact the app is unable to provide an accurate representation of the criminal activity across a larger geographical area because of variations in engagement in different places.”

Albertans are asked to reports and criminal or even suspicious activity direct to police before posting to an online page, group or app. Police say they cannot respond to reports made over social media due to a lack of the formal reports they need to gather to follow up on all pertinent information surrounding an incident.

“It is important to remember that simply discussing or reporting crime over social media or on unverified apps is not the same as reporting crime to law enforcement. If you don’t report it, we may not know about it,” Tewfik said.

RCMP in Alberta have their own app coming in the future that links to its online crime reporting site and the Crime Stoppers tip page, as well as provide a crime map showing local activity across the province’s RCMP jurisdictions.

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