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Putnam unveils new smartphone app

Rachel Molenda
An application recently unveiled by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department allows users to report criminal activity, leave tips, attach a photograph and receive messages from the department through the user's smartphone or tablet.

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- For the citizens of Putnam County, a safer community is now only a click away.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department debuted its smartphone application earlier this week.

The app, which can be downloaded for free, is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, Android-powered phones and Windows devices. It allows users to submit tips, report crimes, take photos and view messages from the sheriff's department from their mobile devices.

"People use their phones for everything now, and they can take pictures of illegal activity, and turn around instantly and report that criminal activity," Sheriff Steve Deweese said. "Instead of having to be at home with a computer, they have the app right there on their phone and can submit information as it's happening."

Deweese said alerts from the app go straight to him. It isn't meant to replace calling 911 for emergency purposes, he said, but will supplement the tools the county already has in tracking crime.

Deweese said he has already received tips through the app.

B.G. Hamrick, of BG Hamrick LLC, an inbound marketing company based in Scott Depot, said he and Deweese had multiple conversations and studied the mobile applications of law enforcement agencies nationwide to determine what the app needed and how it could best serve Putnam County.

"Many of them were lacking the elements that would make them a tool someone might use every day," Hamrick said. "We wanted to make sure that it wasn't solely sheriff's department based, but also highly user friendly."

Hamrick, who also designed the department's website and has designed apps for the City of Hurricane, Charleston's Capitol Market, the City of South Charleston, Highland Hospital and other area entities, said the app was in line with the department's goal of engaging the community to help prevent crime.

"Sheriff Deweese has been very interested in keeping up with needs of his community -- the department engages people on Facebook and through social media," Hamrick said. "He was very adamant when we spoke that it needed to be very user friendly and very community oriented."

Hamrick predicts the app will grow and evolve to suit the needs of Putnam County residents, and he believes it will help the department bolster its presence in the community.

"It humanizes the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, and helps people to remember that these are real people, out on their streets every day, working to protect them," he said. "It will help create a relationship with the community."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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