My Alert DC: Crime on Your Phone

Photo courtesy of
‘(Old) Blackberry’
courtesy of ‘rwkvisual’

Late last night, when walking home with friends, I learned about a technology that is either really useful or too much information: My Alert DC. Apparently you can get text message updates from the DC Metropolitan Police alerting you to emergencies and crimes in the neighborhood of your choice. When a crime occurs, for example, you get a text which reads like a police blotter, essentially, alerting you to the nature of the crime, the profile of the perpetrator and of the victim. My friend noted that he gets 2-3 every day, and since he had received none yesterday, something was “due to happen,” statistically. And indeed, not ten minutes after we got to our respective homes, he forwarded me a message. 

Besides crime alerts, which are useful pretty much only when something is on-going and otherwise serve to make you more anxious than normal, you can get severe weather warnings, government closings, Amber Alerts and school closings. All of this is tailored to what you want and your chosen neighborhood or school area. I signed up out of sheer blogger-ly nosiness and curiosity, but I’m curious as to what others think.

Acacia has lived in DC since graduating from Vassar College with degrees in English and Italian. She cries daily at the thought of her imminent departure from this beloved city, as she will begin a Fulbright teaching grant in the Campania region, Italy come October. She’ll be blogging that experience too. Get at her: or follow her on twitter.

3 thoughts on “My Alert DC: Crime on Your Phone

  1. I signed up for the email version(iphone user, don’t like text messages) a few months ago. Its fairly useful – good to see what has happened nearby, and where to avoid, I suppose.
    My recommendation, if you do sign up, is to be very careful and selective in limiting it to only sending messages for a small area around where you want, otherwise you’ll get a flood of texts.

  2. No! It was not “statistically” “due to happen” — if no crimes have occurred in the past couple days, there’s no reason to believe that the probability of a crime occurring today is higher as a result. In fact, if there’s any autoregressive component to crime (that is, crime today is somehow correlated with crime yesterday), it’s much more likely that low crime yesterday is positively correlated with low crime today, not vice-versa.

  3. I tried this for awhile, during the Inauguration because I thought it might give me a heads-up about crowd problems or police activity (it didn’t). What I mostly found was that it made me a bit too paranoid… I prefer shiny happy texts.