June 14, 2021

Mobile App Aims to Better Connect IMPD and Community

Doug Jaggers/WFYI

Doug Jaggers/WFYI

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and a social change organization have partnered to roll out a mobile app to connect the community and law enforcement.

The app, called Community by MovementForward, has been in the works since 2019, said Ryan Yarrell, the managing director of MovementForward’s Indianapolis office. MovementForward is a national organization, and received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to create the app. The organization partnered with IMPD on the effort. Other local law enforcement agencies like the Marion County Sheriff's Office collaborated as well.

The app provides users with resources such as contact information for local law enforcement agencies and a list of online services including requests for more police patrols and community appearances. A resource map shows users where neighborhood resources that provide public services like food pantries are located.

“For far too long we’ve seen technology used to divide us …  Now we’re trying to change that narrative and use it to connect us to law enforcement,” Yarrell said.

The app will officially launch this week, but is currently available for residents to download. The app has so far only been piloted in the southwest region of the city, but Yarrell said he hopes to eventually expand the app’s reach to all of Indianapolis.

IMPD Lt. Allen Tuttle said he hopes the app will bridge a gap between law enforcement, the public and community resources.

“In recent years, there has been a strain on the relationship between police departments and the communities we serve,” Tuttle said. “From IMPD’s perspective, we would like to see that relationship become better and more collaborative.”

Yarrell said the recent uptick in violent crime in the city makes the app even more crucial. More than 100 homicides have occurred in Indianapolis this year.

“With this recent rise in crime, and especially violent crime in Indianapolis, I think any tool that we can get to bring these numbers down is going to be helpful,” Yarrell said.

Tuttle added the app will allow residents to see crime activity in their area in real time when officers are dispatched to an incident.

Tuttle emphasized that the app is not a substitute for calling 911, but is a “one-stop shop” for accessing resources and learning more about IMPD.

Yarrell said he encourages all Indianapolis residents to download the app.

“We just really encourage not only residents in the southwest district of Indianapolis and the Near West Collaborative, but all in Indianapolis to download this app,” Yarrell said. “Become aware and informed and work together with your community members along with law enforcement to really help reduce some of the violent crime we’ve been seeing here.”

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