Updated: February 15, 2020 11:13 PM
Created: February 15, 2020 11:10 PM
WAYNE COUNTY N.Y. (WHEC) – A new app designed to help law enforcement find missing people is now in the hands of a local police department.
At the beginning of February, the Village of Wolcott Police Department became the first department anywhere to acquire the “ID Me 911” app.
The app uses a comprehensive user-driven database that can connect law enforcement agencies under one network. This allows them to share detailed information about a missing person within minutes of a report being filed.
"I really do think it's a great opportunity," says Zackery Powell, a Wolcott officer.
Once an officer gets a name, they can easily upload details ranging from a picture or a physical description, all the way down to any possible medical conditions or other needs. They can then send that information directly to other agencies who use the app, within a pre-set radius.
"We just need to get the information out that we're looking for a child or a vulnerable person,” Powell says.
The app was developed by Officer Steve MacNeal, a 22-year police veteran in Wayne County.
MacNeal originally thought up the idea as an online database back in 2014, he has carried that technology over to the app.
"Time really is of the essence when it comes to a missing person’s notification," MacNeal says. "The faster we can get that information out, the faster we can find them, the faster we can get them home safe."
MacNeal says the technology is the first of its kind, and was developed over the course of several years. He says the technology serves to complement current police procedures like AMBER alerts.
After months of testing, Wolcott had initially approached MacNeal about the technology, which is why he chose them as the first department.
MacNeal says including more in-depth info on a missing person can make a real difference when police are on the lookout.
"They can very quickly turn around and contact that person,” he says. “Now, if they didn't have the app, they may not have known that was a missing person, and they would have just continued on."
While it may just be Wolcott with the app, MacNeal says he plans to expand to the rest of Wayne County and then continue to build on. The app is free of charge for Wayne County law enforcement but will turn into a paid subscription for other agencies.
Civilians do not have access to the app, but can still upload information to be used in the database free of charge by signing up here.
MacNeal says a civilian can print their profiles out and share them with law enforcement.
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