This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

CNET News Video: Video chatting with police officers

About Video Transcript

CNET News Video: Video chatting with police officers

2:39 /

The Redwood City Police Department is experimenting with a new video chat system that lets residents talk with police officers with the click of a button. CNET's Sumi Das has the story.

-In Redwood city, California, police officers are getting used to a new beat. Online chatrooms. From 9 to 5 Monday through Thursday, a uniformed cop is ready to answer your questions. -Great. So go ahead and click the link. -We refer to it as video chat and basically what the program entails is we offer the public the opportunity to engage our officers from the comfort of their home. -I'm Officer Villegas with the Redwood City Police Department. Thank you for using video chat. How can I help you today? -Officer Diana Villegas says that similar to Skype, the chat tool is easy to use. Just go to the police department's website and click on the video chat now button. -People call and they want information on traffic accidents or they're moving to Redwood City and they wanna know the crime rate of a certain area. So what I would do is send them a link to our crimereports.com. -Chats are anonymous. Callers don't have to provide their name or location. Video chat is intended for non-emergencies but if needed the police department is always ready to dispatch an officer to assist the caller. At a cost of 200 dollars for each computer running the video chat software, it's an inexpensive tool and the officers are typically on desk duty sometimes due to injuries. So they're not pulled off the streets to monitor chat. -If I can have citizens satisfy their needs by calling in and speaking to our video chat officer and relieving an officer to go to their homes, it would really allow my officers to do more work in maybe more distressed neighborhoods. -The program is still in the pilot stage, but the police chief hopes to make video chat available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it's attracted attention from several agencies around the country. Although at least one observer worries about turnover if some officers aren't as comfortable with the technology. -It could bring in some newer age people who are very familiar with Skype and text messaging and they may fit into that very well, but when you lose dispatchers who have 20, 30, 40 years of experience, you lose that knowledge base. -Still he says offering more ways to communicate is positive. -Some citizens that may be bedridden or they're not able to get in a car and drive to the police station, drive to the fire station. -Right now though, the social media room at the police station is fairly quiet receiving about a dozen calls per week. In Redwood City, California, I'm Sumi Das, CNET.com for CBS News.

New releases

What could and should a Zappos brick-and-mortar store look like?
1:57 January 29, 2015
That's what the e-tailer tried to decide over the holidays, when it opened a Las Vegas pop-up store that let shoppers handle items...
Play video
Tomorrow Daily 121: Realistic Unreal Engine 4 demo, a homemade mechanical horse and more
23:06 January 29, 2015
On today's show, we give kudos (and chuckle a bit) at one man's attempt to make a mechanical horse at home, check out a jaw-droppingly...
Play video
The Apple Watch is coming in April
5:11 January 29, 2015
Tim Cook officially confirms it, but will it have enough battery life to last through a day? Apple's Q1 earnings are the best by any...
Play video
How to send Group Messages in Twitter
1:33 January 29, 2015
Learn how to hold private conversations with one or more people on Twitter, and then how to escape them.
Play video
SkyBell's smart buzzer puts outdoor security into focus
2:34 January 29, 2015
It isn't perfect, but this $200 Wi-Fi-enabled video bell will do more to protect your front door.
Play video
Quickly turn off the iPhone flashlight
0:49 January 29, 2015
Donald Bell shows you an alternative, faster way to switch off your iPhone's flashlight feature.
Play video
Fitbit Charge HR folds heart rate into its everyday fitness band
1:46 January 29, 2015
All-day heart rate tracking, and it doesn't cost much more than the old Fitbit Charge. The question is, do you need it?
Play video
This high-concept LED gets high marks
2:00 January 29, 2015
Don't let the hollow look fool you -- Green Creative's BR30 Cloud LED is a solid performer.
Play video