ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is using a cellphone app for Minnesotans to report tips on threats of violence against schools and places of worship.
Announced in a Wednesday, Aug. 18, news conference, Minnesota law enforcement can now accept tips through the app See It, Say It, Send It. The BCA said Wednesday that the deployment comes as violent acts at schools and places of worship have trended upward in recent years. They hope the app can be another tool to prevent violence.
Using the app, Minnesotans who wish to submit a tip can write a description of what they witnessed, and even upload a picture or video to include evidence. Tipsters can choose to be 100% anonymous if they wish — law enforcement won’t even know their names, if they wish — and the app does not collect personal data from the user or their phone.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the BCA, said Wednesday that, “This all comes down to one thing: Minnesotans being willing to let us know what you know.”
“We want to rely on you to share information about threats to our schools and religious facilities so we can work together to stop the plan before it’s carried out,” he said.
Once they receive reports, the BCA said in a Wednesday release that they will then triage the tips, notify local law enforcement and help respond to criminal activity. The BCA will also work with the Department of Education, School Safety Center and religious leadership when appropriate.
If Minnesotans are witnessing or have knowledge of violence actively or imminently being carried out, Evans said they should still call 911 to report immediate danger. The app is more of a proactive approach to investigate and stop threats before they come to fruition. Multiple reports related to multiple locations or targets could also help law enforcement connect the dots if threats or events are related, he said.
“This is another way for Minnesotans to share information and help keep our community safe by working together to identify threats of violence before they occur,” he said.
Though accessible, the app is not to be taken lightly: Evans said if Minnesotans make false reports through the app, the consequences would be similar to any other false report.
According to Apple’s app store, the app is sold by Crowdsourced Geofencing Solutions LLC, based in Sarasota, Florida. Evans said other states have successfully deployed the app already.
“Our goal collectively as Minnesotans and in our communities should be that we have safe schools where children can learn and thrive and focus on their education, rather than ever having to worry about an act of violence occurring,” Evans said. “Same thing goes for our religious facilities across our state. We want to make sure that people are able to worship freely and have welcoming institutions where people can exercise their religious rights across our great state.”