Inside look at city`s new crime texting program

Inside look at city`s new crime texting program

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Police launched several programs this week, including a way for people to text tips, but what could prove even more useful to police are the 911 calls that are followed by pictures taken on smart phones. And now police can put that info into the beat cars immediately.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a 26-year-old man was shot in the shoulder on a playground near 69th and Sangamon. Police canvassed the scene for clues and witnesses, and certainly could have used a picture of the two gunmen, if someone would have called 911 with a photo to share.

That's the idea behind the new system that, as of today, was fully operational.

The Office of Emergency Management demonstrated how it works. In a simulated call, someone saw a man on a bike jump another man and beat him. The dispatcher took the information and then sent a text to the caller's cell phone enabling that person to respond with a picture from the scene.

That information was then forwarded to police headquarters with the picture, and this is where pictures can become potential crime solvers.

"It will be immediately reviewed by analysts in the police fusion center and if there's information that's relevant to the first responders and the responding officers, it can be immediately pushed out in real time to portable computers installed in almost 3,000 police vehicles," Public Safety Information Technology Commander Jonathan Lewin explains.

At a shooting in Englewood, people were extremely reluctant to talk to us about the program. Two teens agreed to share their thoughts only if we did not show who they were.

"I would not send no picture in because I'd be trying to run and get in the house, wouldn't be ready to take no picture," one teen said.

They and others thought the idea was good, but police may not get much cooperation.

"I mean you still got some people that like helping out the police, but then you still got some people that don't," said another.

Fear of retaliation often the overriding concern.

"Think about it, like if they find out you snapped a picture of them, they gonna try to come to your crib," a teen told our cameras.

Police made it clear that they are willing to protect people's privacy. They are most interested in the information and photos. All someone would have to do is ask for their information to be kept anonymous.

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