Not Every Essential Police Call Is 9-1-1 Worthy

15 Nov

Last Friday night David, Cathie, and I were on Interstate 5 returning from an Apple Store near Portland. Just as we drove around a hill we could see the overpass on our exit lit up like a Christmas tree with emergency vehicle lights. While I drove David and Cathie counted the number of police, fire, and other official trucks and cars perched above the freeway.

“Nine!”

“Eleven!”

A lot, to be sure. Because the event was on the opposite side of the exit that we took, we did not drive by the scene and so could not see what caused such an emergency response. Our curiosity prompted me to buy the local paper the next morning and surf its website as well as visit the city and state police websites in search of a clue.

Nothing.

However, it turns out there’s an iPhone app that got me the information I needed.

Police Anywhere by Eaglevision Productions Inc. has non-emergency contact information for police departments in every city in the United States. It is a valuable tool that, if broadly available, will cut down on unnecessary, inappropriate, and wasteful 9-1-1 calls. It can also provide users with a quick way to get important police-related information. For example, if you’re visiting a town and your car gets towed, it’s hardly an emergency situation, but most police departments will be able to tell you how to get your vehicle back, if you only knew where to call. Police Anywhere gets you that phone number.

Police Anywhere is probably the simplest iPhone app I’ve ever used. Open it up and you get two options: Auto Find and Browse. The first choice uses your iPhone’s GPS function to locate which jurisdiction you’re in, then, lickity split, the number appears. A single tap on the screen gives you a splash screen asking if you want to cancel the task or dial the police. When you tap Call, it dials the number.

You can use the browse feature, which guides you to local police contact information by state, then county, then city or town. I would prefer to browse by city or to have a search  tool. But given Police Anywhere is in release 1.1, I expect enhancements along these lines in future versions.

For business travelers and vacationers, Police Anywhere is an exceptionally simple yet exceptionally valuable app to have on hand. And at $1.99, it’s cheap insurance.

Oh, by the way, I used Police Anywhere to call and learn what happened last Friday. It was a non-injury accident.

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