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Cook County Getting High-Tech Crime Tip App

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The iWatch app allows smart phone users to send tips about crime to authorities, including photos. (Credit: CBS)

The iWatch app allows smart phone users to send tips about crime to authorities, including photos. (Credit: CBS)

Brad Edwards Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. He...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A new crime-fighting tool in Cook County might soon be in the palm of your hand.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards has a sneak peak at iWatch – a soon-to-be-launched program that pairs you with police.

“We’re bringing new technology to law enforcement that isn’t in our region. It’s an enormous thing,” said Cook County Sheriff’s Lt. John Blair.

The program is about to launch in Cook County. It will allow local residents to send in tips about crime, including photos.

The county hopes to use the program to serve as a crime-fighting clearing house for local police departments.

“Our goal is to take the Sheriff’s office, and establish ourselves as a platform for Cook County, and allow agencies to communicate, and use us as the medium,” Blair said.

Authorities say a big advantage is the smart phone app is youth friendly

“The way people communicate now – especially the younger generation, — everyone is on their phone. They have a smart phone,” Blair said. “Their computer is in their hand, so they don’t have to go to a phone and dial 911, or take a picture from a camera. Everything is right there in their hand.”

The app also allows anyone sending in a crime tip to remain anonymous. It also supports 40 different languages. Police can see the tips in English, and respond back to a tipster in their own language.

“This really takes law enforcement into the new generation,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “You now have this set of eyes and ears that you could never have before, but in talking today’s language.”

The iWatch app is already used in Dallas and Philadelphia. Officials at one department said it’s an important tool.

Its $10,000 annual cost is paid for with forfeiture proceeds collected by the Sheriff’s office. It launches the first of next month.

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