Goodwill and Peace of Mind in New Mexico: How Public Safety Leaders Partnered with Citizens to Give The Gift of a Safer Community
This holiday season, Bloomfield, New Mexico is proving why it’s known as “the little city with a big heart.”
Home to nearly 8,000 people, Bloomfield has long been admired for its rich history and community spirit. Considered the heart of the four corners and gateway to the internationally recognized Quality Waters just below Navajo Dam, it’s also a destination for people who want to visit its national treasures, including Mesa Verde National Park, Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins, and Chaco Culture National Historic Park.
And, true to its character, its residents and public servants also have a notable history of being proactive when it comes to identifying and implementing innovative, pragmatic solutions to promote the health and welfare of the people who live and work within its city limits.
So it’s no surprise that Bloomfield is one of the first municipalities in New Mexico to adopt mobile technology as part of a strategy to safeguard its residents and businesses.
No Time Like the Present
It was a typical evening in August, warm and dry, but this was no typical meeting of the Bloomfield, NM Neighborhood Watch. Packed into the meeting room, residents and business owners gathered to talk about something they’d been waiting for for a long time -- a restart to the Neighborhood Watch program.
Of all the things that distinguish Bloomfield, the city certainly is not remarkable for a higher-than-average crime rate -- but citizens weren’t content to sit back and ‘hope for the best’ going forward. They and their public safety officials were determined to be proactive and take positive steps to promote even greater security and safety.
That evening, in addition to the traditional, tried and true tactics of citizen watch programs, Interim Chief Randon Matthews introduced a brand new tool for those in attendance to consider; a mobile reporting app -- available right on their phones -- giving everyone the power to report suspicious activity, capture photographic and video evidence if possible, and send it directly to their district officer representative for immediate action. And the best part -- citizens could remain completely anonymous if they chose to, making it safe to report and easy to be involved.
When the demo wrapped up, the energy and excitement was palpable -- nearly everyone agreed that Bloomfield needed this tool -- and sooner than later.
So, rather than wait and advocate for the cost of launching the reporting app to be added into the next budget, two residents, Debbi Vavra and Lisa Webb of Guild Mortgage, offered to underwrite the immediate purchase of the tool.
STOPit was rolled out in a soft-launch to Bloomfield residents later that month.
NowSince officially launching STOPit in October, Bloomfield has already started seeing impressive results.
In addition to a foiled kidnapping, the recovery and return of multiple stolen cars, as well as several high-profile felony arrests for drug related offenses -- citizens are using the STOPit app every day to help their law enforcement partners to stop crime and help preserve law and order.
Citizens are excited that they have such a powerful tool to connect with their neighborhood law enforcement partners. When someone sees an issue -- anything from a suspicious person, to suspected animal abuse -- they can easily, safely gather evidence and anonymously share that information with police to help confront and address threats.
Another significant benefit of the reporting app is that law enforcement is feeling more and more connected with those they serve -- and trusted. They’re reporting text conversations with people on the other end that show citizens appreciate knowing that they're getting real-time responses from the police department. The community is excited to be able to assist police officers.
A Two Way Street: Communication Helps People Be Vigilant and Stay Safe
At about the same time Bloomfield began investigating options for providing an anonymous reporting tool to empower their community, the Little City With a Big Heart, also re-dedicated itself to build a robust social media presence. “Our Interim Chief, Randon Matthews, feels strongly that an active, proactive social media presence is an important part of the conversation we need to be sharing with our residents, business owners and wider community,” said Suzanne Moore, Administrative Supervisor for the Bloomfield New Mexico Police Department. “One of the many things we love about the STOPit app is that it allows us to reach out to our residents and community with tips and alerts to help us all stay better connected and safer. This is a great complement to our social media campaigns.”
Visit them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you’ll see plenty of positive messages, like the one to “Remember your #9pmroutine,” -- messages that promote public safety and remind us of good, old common sense ways to keep ourselves and our neighborhoods strong and safe.
“Especially during the winter holidays, we are more likely let the stresses of the season distract us from our usual vigilance -- giving would-be thieves and other bad actors more opportunity to do damage and inflict harm,” cautions Moore.
Follow these tips from the Bloomfield PD to enjoy a safer, happier holiday season.
For information about bringing the STOPit Solution to your community, call now and speak with one of our public safety solutions experts.