Citizens armed with smart phones are being enlisted to help State Conservation Officers enforce rules on all islands. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka explains.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is launching a new smart phone app. It can be downloaded free from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store or the DLNR website. The public can then use the DLNR TIP APP to anonymously report violations, illegal poaching or other crimes. Robert Farrell is Chief of the Division of Conservation Resources Enforcement or DOCARE.
“We do have a lot of land to cover and the only way we’re gonna do that is with citizen engagement. We need the eyes and ears of the public to help us out. And so this is just another way to allow them to contact us a little bit more real time and get that information to our officers’ hands that much quicker and hopefully provide a quicker response. That’s the goal, here.”
The APP costs 8-thousand dollars annually. It was developed by Tip 411, a St. Paul Minnesota based company, which customized apps for 14-hundred communities, including Hawai’i. Speaking via Skype, Tony Stanno, an account executive with Tip 411, says the app provides near real-time, two-way communications, making it the ultimate community engagement tool.
“It’s as simple as clicking on the app. So you fill out this simple form, adding whatever other media I want to attach to my tip. So I can attach photos, videos or even take photos of videos right within the app itself.”
There’s also a texting feature that can be accessed to relay information, photographs and videos. DOCARE currently operates a call-in line, which generates 300-400 tips each month, which are routed by DOCARE’s command and supervisory staff to officers in the field. Chief Farrell, says his priority is to crack down on illegal commercial activities.
“So, anything where people are making a profit off of our natural and cultural resources, I’d like to try and stop that. And when I say, ‘Stop,’ I mean doing that illegally. So they need to have the proper permits, proper license, proper tag, whatever it is to enjoy our resources. But my focus is illegal commercialization and I really believe that that’s an issue.”
Chief Farrell says the new app will provide written documentation for each tip and enable the division to shift resources based on need. He also hopes to offer greater incentives to tipsters in the future.
“You’ve seen in a couple of the other cases with the Monk Seal case and a couple other high profile cases that we’ve offered monetary rewards for information. And I think that’s a process that we’re going to explore and make sure that we provide that for the public.”
For more information on the new app, go to dlnr.hawaii.gov/docare. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.