McGruff Turns to Technology

Location: Nationwide By Becky Lewis Published August 2014

McGruff the Crime Dog® celebrated his 34th birthday on July 1 not by getting a gift, but by giving one: McGruff Mobile, a free app that provides alerts and crime tracking information and promotes school, campus and community safety.

Launched on July 1, 2014, by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), and available for download from the Android Market and iTunes, McGruff Mobile displays recent crime activity and the names of registered sex offenders around a registered address. Users can enter as many addresses as they want to track, so they can keep tabs on activity around their own home, their younger child’s school, their older child’s college campus three states away, their elderly parents’ home across the country: anywhere they have a special concern.

Features include:

  • An interactive map displaying crimes and sex offenders in a neighborhood.
  • Alerts and information sent via email to mobile devices in real time. Alerts include those focusing on law enforcement emergencies, crime and sex offender information, severe weather, hazardous materials and more.
  • Crime prevention tips.
  • A virtual Neighborhood Watch where users can share photos and information about suspicious activity with law enforcement and with other users.

“This is a natural outgrowth of the information we’ve already been providing on our website. It’s an opportunity for McGruff to embrace new technology,” says Michelle Boykins, NCPC senior director of communications.

“It really focuses on prevention. It gives our users critical information about what’s going on in a neighborhood, along with information on how to get involved in crime prevention in that area through programs such as Neighborhood Watch. It gives tips on concrete things they can do, like not walking alone at night or not walking with your headphones on and not paying attention to your surroundings,” she adds.

And using McGruff Mobile will give parents the opportunity to keep an eye out for their children even when the parents themselves cannot be nearby.

“College campuses are really their own mini-communities. Another community surrounds them, but they live within their own world. It’s important to recognize that although campuses are made to feel very safe, crime happens there just as it does in other communities,” Boykins says. “It’s important to be able to keep a virtual eye on your children and on your elderly parents. You can’t be everywhere and law enforcement can’t be everywhere. If you recognize a potential hot spot or see activity increasing, McGruff Mobile gives you tools to address it and help prevent future incidents.”

Because “taking a bite out of crime” through crime prevention is always NCPC’s goal, the council has partnered with AlertID to offer McGruff Mobile free of charge: “We have a wide network of law enforcement practitioners, parents and teachers, and we’ve tried to get the word out that this is available, and that it’s free. We want it to be a useful public safety tool, and we want to use technology in an engaging way so that we continue to do everything we can to help keep children, parents and their communities safe.”