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A hit and run is the most unsolvable crime in law enforcement, says Larry L. Stevenson, a former Denver police officer. Unfortunately, more than 12,000 occurred on Denver streets from 2012 to 2014, 600 of which were fatal or caused serious bodily injury.
It’s a dangerous problem—but one that can be reduced by a well-connected public. That’s where Medina Alert, a Colorado nonprofit, comes in.
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Medina Alert empowers people to become good witnesses in cases of hit and run. Formerly, the organization focused its efforts on workshops with law enforcement and transportation professionals—like taxi drivers, pizza delivery guys, and truck drivers. The more eyes paying attention and phoning in hit and run details, the safer the streets. When a hit and run occurs, a Medina Alert was sent to on board computers and radio dispatches. Alerts only went out when the instance met a standard of solvability, meaning authorities had a basic description of the car, suspect, or incident. It is a high threshold. Since 2012, only 23 Medina Alerts have been issued, but 18 of the cases were solved.
That Medina Alert dissemination strategy got a major tech boost June 24 as the nonprofit launched its mobile application.
Denverites download the app to receive push notifications alerting them that a hit and run has happened. The app has a communication system, created by Stevenson in conjunction with app developer Epic Apps, that utilizes GPS to pinpoint users in the area of the hit and run who might have information useful to law enforcement. The high standards for a Medina Alert have not changed, meaning users won’t be bombarded with notifications.
“We’re not trying to have people’s phones buzzing every night,” Stevenson says. “When you see a Medina Alert, you know that criteria has been met, you know that information you can take that to the bank and start looking.”
The app allows Denverites to anonymously submit photos, record audio witness accounts, or send emails. The goal of the app is to reach more people, get better information, and hopefully lead to safer communities. So far, it’s been downloaded more than 1,000 times. It looks like it’s well on its way to keeping Coloradans a little bit safer.