MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — There is an app that can alert those who may be in the area of a police chase, potentially saving lives. It’s called Digital Siren, and Mobile County has the biggest deployment of the system in the entire country.
With the push of a button, law enforcement can notify anyone near a chase to get to safety. That button is installed in patrol vehicles and sends an alert to anyone with the free Digital Siren app. The app will also tell you when you’re out of range of the chase.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer that we can alert the public of a high-speed pursuit that unfortunately kills so many people, innocent people,” said Charlie McNichol, the director of the Mobile County Communications District.
McNichol says the system’s benefits are obvious.
“The benefactor is the people who are on the road that can get out of the way of this crazy person running from the police,” said McNichol.
The communications district purchased the technology in September 2020. Agencies across the county are now using it. The Mobile Police Department is leading the way. 289 vehicles are equipped with the technology with 165 of those activated and in use. That’s more than any other law enforcement agency in the country.
“I think its’ something that is going to save lives and make a difference,” said Tim Morgan, co-founder and CEO of Digital Siren.
Morgan served more than 35 years in law enforcement and one case has stuck with him over the years making him want to do something to keep drivers safe.
“An innocent young man who was killed in a high-speed chase. I think every officer can identify that moment in their career that can cause them to lose them the most sleep,” said Morgan.
“Every single place we’ve talked to across the country, pursuits are up. There’s one state agency that said they’re up 170% in pursuits,” said Morgan. “More people are fleeing than ever before. And so the need for this right now is more than ever before.”
Since Mobile Police adopted Digital Siren, there have been no bystanders injured or killed during a chase. Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine says the app factors into that success, but so does the department’s vehicle pursuit policy and the experienced officers behind the wheel.
“The officer has to balance and outweigh the need for apprehension versus the danger to the public. That’s never taken lightly. There’s certain things that maybe we would not pursue, but then there are certainly those most egregious violent crimes that we would pursue,” said Prine.
And as this technology changes, Chief Prine says law enforcement will need to keep pace.
“Law enforcement has to stay on the cutting edge of this technology in order to warn the best we can the motoring citizens of the county to let them know they could be in danger,” said Prine.
It costs about $100 dollars to equip each vehicle with the Digital Siren technology.
Other local agencies using it include the Mobile and Baldwin County Sheriff’s Offices, as well as the Satsuma, Summerdale, Citronelle, and Thomasville Police departments, among others.
|Law Enforcement Agency||Number of units installed||Number of units active|
|Mobile Police Department|
|Mobile County Sheriff’s Office||92||70|
|Monroe County Sheriff’s Office||14||10|
|Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office||86||63|
|Citronelle Police Department||10||9|
|Mount Vernon Police Department||Installing||Installing|
|Creola Police Department||0||0|
|Satsuma Police Department||11||10|
|Saraland Police Department||0||0|
|Chickasaw Police Department||Installing||Installing|
|Bayou La Batre Police Department||Installing||Installing|
|Dauphin Island Police Department||Installing||Installing|
|Prichard Police Department||0||0|
|Bay Minette Police Department||13||9|
|Summerdale Police Department||7||5|
|Thomasville Police Department||15||13|