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Police Dept. First to Offer Live Video Chat with Residents

Have questions or a non-emergency situation for police officers? Now you can ask them without leaving the comfort of your home.

You’ve been wrongfully cited in a traffic violation, you’ve discovered an abandoned vehicle, or maybe you just want to get to know your local police officer. All this is now possible through real-time video chat with the

The department is the first in the country to offer this service, “just another layer of customer service,” said Police Chief JR Gamez.

“People are always on the go, so now they can plug into a computer and get that face-to-face interaction without stopping by the station,” Gamez said.

After launching on Monday, Gamez said a dozen residents have already tried the service. Some have reported car burglaries and others called just to express their thanks and excitement over the service.

"The innovative use of Netop's Live Guide communication technology by the Redwood City Police Department shows how committed they are to making their website a place for meaningful, real-time citizen engagement," said Netop CEO Kurt Bager in a statement. "In making it possible for citizens to connect immediately with the Police Department, they are setting a new standard for online service.”

The Denmark-based company is offering the service to the police department for $91 a month, a discounted rate because the police department is a public agency, Gamez said. The department is trying the pilot program for three months Mondays through Thursdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and may expand to the weekend based on demand.

Additionally, Gamez said he sees this video chat applicable to other departments in the city as well. Should people have a question about building permits, for example, they can ask the planning department.

The responding call officers are officers who have been hurt during the line of duty and cannot physically be on the streets but can still be useful in other ways. 

“It minimizes the calls for service,” Gamez explained. “So we can physically put more officers in distressed neighborhoods.”

However, Gamez emphasized that an officer will always make a house call if necessary. There are also other tools available for those who don’t feel comfortable video chatting. Dialing 911 is always first priority in an emergency, and online crime reporting tool is available.

“This new service is a wonderful benefit for the people of Redwood City,” added Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre. “It’s an innovative and efficient way for our community to easily interact with our Police Department, and as one of the only agencies to use it this way it really puts Redwood City at the forefront of using technology to engage the community.”

 

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Alice Bollard June 28, 2012 at 04:52 AM
This is a great service. There have been times when I needed a question answered but didn't need to dial 911. The article in the RWC Patch did not mention how to utilize this service.

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