HOPKINS, Minn. (KMSP) - Call it a sign of the times. A growing number of police departments across the country are launching apps to better serve their communities.
In Hopkins, police have two new apps: one for the public and the other is being used behind the scenes. Both apps have the same goal to better serve the public.
Officer Mark Kyllo is among the Hopkins police officers using an app called Heka Health, which is aimed at counting steps for better physical fitness.
“For me it’s been an eye-opening experience that I’m not getting the steps that I want,” said Officer Kyllo. “I’m not being as active as I want. It’s been great for me.”
With the chief offering a paid day-off for department employees reaching 750,000 steps this summer, the app also serves as an incentive to get out and patrol the city by foot and better interact with the community. The department hopes the habits formed during the 90-day challenge will become permanent.
“I think the car can be a big barrier,” said Officer Kyllo.
During these casual conversations with people in the community, cops are also encouraging people to download the newly launched Hopkins Police app. This allows anyone with a smart phone to connect with the department, offer tips, remain anonymous, pay fines, or get ahold of a specific officer.
Just as important, the department can get information out quickly to the public. For example if there’s a traffic situation or if a neighborhood needs to be put into lockdown, push alerts can notify residents in seconds.
“Sometimes we get people who send us Facebook messages about suspicious acts occurring in real time,” said Sgt. Mike Glassberg. “We’d rather you call 911 because you are going to get an immediate response.”
So far, officers using both apps believe they are moving the department in the right direction.
“Our goal is to engage the community with any way possible we can,” said Kyllo.
The Hopkins Police app is available now for anyone with a smartphone to download for free. It cost the department about $600 to develop and $2,100 to maintain annually.