Smartphone users at Boston University can now download a free app to stay connected with the BU Police Department. The app will allow users to receive updates from BUPD, submit anonymous tips and commend or complain about an officer, officials said.
The My Police Department app, or MyPD, is a product of Wired Blue, LLC, and is available for iPhone and Android users, said BUPD Deputy Director of Public Safety Scott Paré.
“It [the app] makes it a little easier for students to gain accessibility to us,” Paré said. “Oftentimes they [students] are not sure, if they have a problem, where they go, who they call or how they call.”
Students can use the app to submit anonymous tips, call the department, commend an officer, make an officer complaint or take a survey about the department, Paré said. The app also contains news and updates from BUPD as well as links to BUPD’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The app was announced on Thursday.
“We want them [students] to be able to connect with us,” he said. “We want them to feel like we are accessible and that we’re listening to their needs and concerns.”
However, Paré said students should not use the app to contact BUPD in an emergency situation.
“This app isn’t for emergency purposes,” he said. “If they are in an emergency, they should either call 911 or the Boston University Police direct at (617) 353-2121.”
BUPD Crime Analysis and Statistics Officer Peter Shin said BUPD members contacted Wired Blue after the department learned the Cambridge Police Department was using MyPD. BUPD officials then worked with creators of the app to establish an account for the department.
“The goal of the department has always been to get more information out to everybody in an efficient manner,” he said.
The app also sends notifications to smartphones when BUPD tweets, Shin said. Because departments across the nation use MyPD, students can subscribe to updates from more than one department.
“If your town has MyPD, you could actually get alerts from us and your town,” he said.
In addition to its other functions, students can use the app to submit questions by category, Shin said. The question is then forwarded to the appropriate BU official, who will respond to the student’s question directly.
Despite this new innovation, the BU Alert system will still be in place, Shin said.
“That’s going to still be the primary way that we’re going to still get emergency alerts out to you and to the public,” he said. “This is basically an add-on.”
School of Management sophomore Yoon Jy Lim said she would use the app because it would be more reliable than the alert system in place.
“Sometimes we have emergency alerts and we don’t get them because they’re sent through emails or we can’t send tips because we don’t know the number to text,” she said. “I think the app would be really helpful.”
MyPD makes information more readily accessible to students, Lim said.
“We use apps for a lot of things and to have an app on our phones we would be able to access [BUPD officials] more easily,” she said. “It would be a good habit for all students to keep it on their phones.”
College of General Studies sophomore Charlotte Miller said she would use the app.
“That’s a good way of creating more communication between faculty and staff,” she said. “… Everyone is getting a smartphone. It’s a huge part of college students’ lives … They’re making it student friendly.”