Citizen, the crime-tracking and neighborhood monitoring app, is pulling back from plans it had considered creating a private security force to send to users in need.
Citizen ended its pilot program in Los Angeles on Tuesday and says it has no plans to launch a similar service elsewhere. CBS News.
It comes after a Citizen spokeswoman confirmed the pilot program to DailyMail.com last week, saying it was testing private security responses with its own employees in Los Angeles, such as when they wanted to be escorted home late at night.
A mysterious Citizen-branded patrol vehicle had been spotted through the streets of Los Angeles, recently associated with the private security firm Los Angeles Professional Security (LAPS).
“This was a small 30-day test that has now been completed,” a Citizen spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch about the program. “We have no plans to establish our own private security force and no ongoing relationship with LAPS.”
A mysterious Citizen LA branded ‘private patrol’ car has been spotted in recent days. The company says it controls a private security force to respond to user requests
First released in 2016, the Citizen app relies on police traffic and user reports, including user-submitted videos, to map reports of nearby crimes and police responses.
First released in 2016, the Citizen app is hugely popular in major cities as a way to track down local crimes. It is currently available in about 20 major cities.
The app relies on police scanner traffic and user reports, including user-submitted videos, to map reports of nearby crimes and police responses.
The private security pilot program was first revealed last week in internal emails that were leaked Motherboard.
The internal emails described by Motherboard suggested that the new pilot project was part of an ambitious project to expand the company’s mission from reporting crime to fighting it.
“The broad master plan was to create a privatized secondary emergency response network,” a former Citizen employee told the outlet.
The product, described as a ‘security response’ in the internal emails, is said to have had Citizen send a car with private security forces to an app user asking for help.
One of the emails claimed that Citizen pitched the high-level security response service to the Los Angeles Police Department and received an enthusiastic response.
The email stated that the LAPD, which was hit by austerity last year and has the lowest workforce in 12 years, is inundated with property crimes and struggles to respond to such calls.
Currently available in about 20 cities, the app appears to be considering a dramatic expansion into active crime-fighting by creating a ‘privatized secondary emergency response network’.
Citizen already offers a personal security plan called ‘Protect’, which allows a Citizen employee to track the user’s location when active, and stream video to the Citizen agent when triggered by a safeword.
Conceived as a ‘digital bodyguard’, the service advertises ‘Immediate emergency assistance at your exact location’ in case of problems.
In addition to LAPS, the emails suggest that Citizen is partnering with Securitas, a private security company, for the pilot program.
Citizen CEO and founder Andrew Frame is under fire for putting a bounty on the wrong man’s head in Southern California
An email describes a test by a Citizen employee in Los Angeles, who hired a Securitas security guard to escort her to get a cup of coffee.
The email stated that improvements were needed to the user and agent experience, and that the results were being reviewed at Securitas to make adjustments.
While it has grown in popularity as violent crime has increased in many cities, the Citizen app has also received criticism, including allegations that it fosters paranoia or even racism.
The app, initially called Vigilante, was pulled from Apple’s App Store for fear it would inspire users to take the law into their own hands before relaunching under its current name.
On Friday, the edge reported that Citizen CEO and founder Andrew Frame personally authorized an unorthodox $ 30,000 bounty to “ track down ” an arsonist – but put the money on the wrong man’s head.
The app pushed the bounty in a warning to users in Southern California last Saturday, but featured a photo of a homeless man who was later released by police for lack of evidence.
“Let’s find this man, fully activate the security network,” Frame wrote in an internal message, The Verge said.
“This is a great transition from Citizen back to active safety. We are not a news company. We are safe and we are making it impossible to escape such heinous crimes. That must be our mindset, ”the message added.
After the false identity was revealed, the company said in a statement that it is “actively working to improve our internal processes to ensure that this does not happen again.”
“This was a mistake we take very seriously,” the statement added.