The Volusia Sheriff’s Office is deploying new tools to help Volusia County residents and visitors use technology to stay informed, report crime and even share video and photos with law enforcement in real time as an incident unfolds.
A priority of Sheriff Mike Chitwood, the new technology will also allow users to get real-time answers to questions like: Why is Air One flying over my neighborhood?
“In the world we live in today, accurate and timely information is crucial,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to make sure people can stay informed, engaged and invested in the safety of our whole community.”
Here’s what’s available now on the new Volusia Sheriff’s Office website, volusiasheriff.org:
- The SaferWatch mobile app
With the free SaferWatch app, anyone can report an incident, non-emergency or a tip, and share videos and photos with first responders in real time. When you contact us through SaferWatch, the app will automatically send your location and your user profile to our Communications Center, which will use that information to streamline calls for service and direct law enforcement, fire or medical help your way. In addition to photos and video, you can also share text and audio files via SaferWatch.
SaferWatch is a two-way communication tool, so it will also provide another avenue for the Sheriff’s Office to communicate directly with the public. SaferWatch users will be able to select and subscribe to locations relevant to them in the county, and receive real-time information on major incidents and in-progress calls. Residents and visitors can subscribe to their city, a school, a government building, a mall, an entertainment venue or Volusia County as a whole.
One of the most common questions the Sheriff’s Office sees on social media is: Why is Air One over my neighborhood? With the SaferWatch app, users will be able to opt in to receive automatic notifications on the type of call the Sheriff’s Office helicopter is working when it’s in their area.
SaferWatch doesn’t replace 911 in an emergency, but it adds capabilities that have never been possible over a phone line. The data that can be shared instantly via the app is the kind of information that can save the life of an innocent victim or a first responder.
Note: Since 2018, the Sheriff’s Office has also offered Text to 911 service for those who have a hearing impairment or can’t safely make a 911 call. Anyone can send a text message to 911 to use this service.
To get the SaferWatch app, visit www.saferwatchapp.com/volusia/ or find the link on the main slider on the home page atwww.volusiasheriff.org. It’s available for free on the App Store and Google Play.
- The OffenderWatch mobile app
Another free app now available on our website is OffenderWatch, which allows users to find out where registered sex offenders are living within a given area, and access details about each offender. When installed on a child’s phone, the app also allows parents and guardians to track their child’s location. The app also sends an alert if a registered sex offender moves into a nearby residence.
With a paid subscription, OffenderWatch offers some added features that parents can use to monitor their child’s activity. Because sex offenders are required to register their phone numbers and email addresses, the OffenderWatch app can detect and send parents an alert when an offender contacts a child via one of those methods. With a subscription, the app will also send parents an alert if a child lingers near a registered offender’s address.
To get the OffenderWatch app, visit www.offenderwatch.com/safe-virtual-neighborhood/ or find the link under “Serving the Community” on the home page atwww.volusiasheriff.org. It’s available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
- Daily Activity Reports and Active Calls
These aren’t new features, but if you aren’t aware of these services on volusiasheriff.org, you can find them on the home page.
Our Daily Activity Reports have been redesigned and streamlined. They’re updated every weekday with a general, case-by-case summary of significant cases deputies handled the previous day. These are redacted for active investigative leads and other confidential details like victims’ identifying information, but they help give you an idea of what’s happening in your neighborhood. Alongside these reports, you can also find zone maps for each of our five districts.
Our Active Calls page gives you a real-time summary of in-progress calls, refreshed every 60 seconds. Keep in mind the initial information received on a call often changes as deputies gather more information, so a call type could change depending on the circumstances. Still, when you see deputies in your neighborhood, you can usually get a good idea of what’s happening by checking the Active Calls screen.