New app allows increased communication between law enforcement, public

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Do you want direct, two-way communication with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office? Now, there’s an app for that.

The Sheriff’s Office has launched the new GCSO app to enable communication between law enforcement and the public. The free app is available through the App Store and Google Play by searching “GCSO” or texting “GCSO” to 95577.

The app, developed by Applied Webology, will not track users’ locations, nor will users’ information be sold to advertisers. Applied Webology handles all back-end operations of the app to ensure user privacy is maintained, officials said.

“[The GCSO app] will allow us to expedite communications to each of you, the citizens, [regarding] missing persons, wanted persons, bank robberies, or whatever the citizen needs to know that’s happening in the Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown said.

App users can access the sex offender registry, crime map, most-wanted list, fallen heroes list, annual reports, and Crime Stoppers, as well as provide tips. Sheriff’s Office representatives noted, however, that the app does not replace 911, which should be used in emergency situations.

“It’s important that we gather information from the public who is witnessing these events so that we can properly investigate crimes or locate missing persons,” Sgt. Ryan Flood said.

Greenville city police, who have used a similar app for more than a year, said they have found the tool effective in notifying the community, especially with special events downtown. Information such as traffic collisions and backups, parking availability, and weather updates are also accessible through the app.

App users must allow push notifications and location monitoring at all times in order for the communication tool to be most effective.

“Where you can use technology to be a force multiplier and to communicate more rapidly to large numbers of people and use that technology in a smart way, then I think everybody wins,” said Ken Miller, chief of the Greenville Police Department.

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