SOMERVILLE, NJ — Reporting a crime or opioid abuse in Somerset County is now fast, easy and anonymous due to the roll out of the STOPit app on Wednesday. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is the first law enforcement agency in the United States to use this app.
The app allows users to have a real-time, two-way anonymous dialogue with law enforcement. Users can text, send images and video directly to an officer for incidents such as violence, threats, weapons and alcohol or drug issues.
“This is essentially a neighborhood watch on steroids,” said Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson during a press conference Wednesday morning.
The app, founded by Todd Schobel in Bedminster, was created initially for students to be able to report bullying at their schools anonymously. Over the past four years, Schobel noted how the app has helped students report child molesters, guns on a school bus, knives in lockers and children considering suicide.
It was a natural sense of progression to move from schools to law enforcement and to start in Somerset County where the app began.
“Many people are reluctant and fearful of retaliation to reach out to law enforcement and that’s what makes this app extremely appealing with the anonymity,” Robertson said.
Examples of reported incidents can include a known drug deal about to go down, a house party with underage minors drinking alcohol or illegal drugs being served and home or car burglaries.
Designated detectives would be in charge of the app to answer any messages and ask further questions for more information. The information is then investigated by the appropriate departments.
Additionally, law enforcement agencies can use the app to send out alerts or requests for information to users.
Robertson noted this will not replace Crime Stoppers or Nixle and will instead work in conjunction with it.
Users from neighboring counties can also download this app to report incidents in Somerset County. Or if a Somerset County resident has a tip for another county they can also report it through the app, which will then be forwarded on to the appropriate agency.
There is also an area on the app to get more information on opioid abuse.
“Everyone has a cell phone or smartphone. Why not use our technology to make the community safer?” Robertson said.
Users can download the free STOPit app from iTunes or Google Play and enter the access code “SOMERSET NJ.” All communications are 100 percent anonymous and can not be tracked back to the user.
(Image by Alexis Tarrazi: From left – Neil Hopper, STOPit Senior Vice President; John Fodor, Chief of Somerset County Detectives; Michael Robertson, Somerset County Prosecutor; and Todd Schobel, STOPit CEO & President all spoke about the app at a press conference on Wednesday.)