Seattle activists tomorrow are launching a first-of-its-kind app for iPhones and Androids that will funnel citizens' anonymous tips on suspected prostitution activities to law enforcement through a secure website that can only be accessed by police officers, reports the Seattle Times. The idea behind the app is to help fill two glaring gaps: Teach citizens how to identify signs of sex-trafficking and give them an easy way to do something about it; and provide law enforcement with data that can potentially help officers rescue victims and build criminal cases against pimps and men who pay for sex.
“There are a lot of scenarios that don't amount to a 911 call,” said Joel Banks, a member of the sheriff's Street Crimes Unit, which investigates prostitution-related cases. “I thought (the app) was a pretty clever way to see that gap and fill it in.” A patrol officer isn't going to respond to a report of, say, a man in his 30s berating a teenager on the side of the road, or to a tip that an “obviously older man in a stereotypical 'pimp car' ” is riding around with a much younger girl, because those situations aren't crimes, Banks said. Through the app, citizens will be able to report suspicions, upload photos and GPS locations, and provide information on a business, vehicle or person — whether that person is a suspected prostitute, pimp or buyer. Officers will be able to search and review reports and view a map of all reported incidents in an area.