(WUSA9) -- You can't have a police officer on every corner but cell phones could be the next best thing.
Now, there's a way you can a photo and report suspicious information to police using your smart phone.
The Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and National Capital Regions have launched the new crime prevention mobile application 'See Something Send Something'.
To use the free service it, first you need to download the app. You can either find it in the Apple App store or on the www.wsp.virginia.gov web page. Then, when you see something suspicious, take a picture of it. The App will ask you your name and phone number before you send the photo.
The App grew out the investigations of the 71 arsons along the Eastern Shore last year. Tips from the public finally came flowing in not from a traditional hotline number but a text box.
VSP Major Rick Jenkins, Deputy Director, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, says they realized that "young people today like to text" and that in order to get them to send tips, the VSP needed to give them a tool they could use on their phones. "Keeping the public engaged with us through the crime-solving, tip-sharing process has evolved and now so have we. This app is simply the 21st century version of the traditional telephone crime tip line or hotline," said Jenkins.
Police say the app does not replace 911 and should not be used for someone needing immediate police action or to report an emergency. The information submitted goes to the VSP for review and analysis and if the tip is relevant, to an ongoing criminal investigation or incident, then it will be forwarded on to the investigating agency, according to police. If the tip is NOT relevant, police say the information provided and the name and phone number of the of the tip's provider are permanently deleted.
It fills a need between calling 911 and doing nothing, says Scott Bullens, CEO of My Mobile Witness, which developed the APP.
He said his wife has already used the App when saw a suspicious looking vehicle parked near their children's school. They live in Colorado. The app works nationwide though, one place you should not use it is in your car while you're driving.
Virginia is the 3rd state in the country to start using 'See Something Send Something'. Pennsylvania and Louisiana are also using the service