Not everyone feels safe in Miami. While its crime rate has declined in recent years, the optimistic statistics will not erase fears of all its residents. That may be why some citizens are ready to take crime reporting into their own hands.
Some Miami natives already patrol beaches, but the Miami Beach city council is considering using a phone application called Citizen so that anyone can report crimes they witness to others using the app—and notify the police department. Some favor this new method of crime tracking, but there are also those who think it could do more harm than good.
The app works by tracking 911 calls and user-reported incidents on a map of the city. By checking the app, people can avoid dangerous areas where crimes have occurred recently.
Benefits of a crime reporting app
Supporters of the app would argue that by tracking crimes, citizens can stay safe by sidestepping dangerous areas of the city in which crimes are occurring. The app can also display crashes that may be delaying traffic.
Beyond just being able to see what crimes may be taking place nearby, Citizen also gives people the power to report on what they see around them. If there is a suspicious individual or situation, a user can file a report and share that information with those around them. This could act as a crime deterrent if criminals notice that everyone is on the watch around them.
Drawbacks of using Citizen
Users of the app have sometimes complained that looking at it too much can make them feel unsafe. Even if they are statistically unlikely to be the victim of a crime, seeing constant reports nearby can make residents feel uneasy.
Since the app partially relies on user reports of incidents they see, there is also a risk of misuse. People may file fake reports and abuse the system, potentially causing panic.
Although there are pros and cons to be made on both sides of the argument, the decision whether to implement the application will ultimately rest with the city and its citizens.