SIDNEY — Citizens across Shelby County will have direct information from the Sheriff’s Office at the tips of their fingers starting this week.
“We’re pretty excited about (the app). It’s something that we’ve been working on since about last October,” Shelby County Sheriff Jim Frye said.
Developing a Sheriff’s app was something that Frye was initially hesitant toward, due to the cost — approximately $6,000. The push that he needed came from the advisory committee he had assembled when he took office in January 2021; the committee, comprised of citizens around Shelby County, had been adamant about addressing the issue of bullying within Shelby County schools. Frye had reached out to the developer of the Sheriff’s app to ask about a feature on reporting issues of bullying, and was told the feature could be added and customized according to the needs in Shelby County.
“If your student has issues with something to do with the school you can go to one of the links and pick out the specific school, and you can send your concern via email. It also sends the Sheriff’s Office the same email, so you’ve got more than one person looking at it. Hopefully we can get better results that way,” Frye said. “We have to have an avenue for kids and parents to speak out, and maybe this will be their avenue for their voice.”
The $6,000 cost of developing the app is a one-time charge, and the Sheriff’s Office will pay a yearly maintenance fee; all of it, in Frye’s eyes, is a small price to pay for improving the lives of citizens in Shelby County.
“It seems like a lot of money, but in the big picture, if we can save just one kid or get some information out there, or get information that could help solve a major crime, the money is worth it,” Frye said.
Frye had also reached out to sheriffs in Union County, Hardin County and Cuyahoga County to gauge the popularity of their apps and found that citizens in those communities utilized the services of those apps often. He anticipates similar results in Shelby County.
“Nobody walks around without their phones in their hands now, so anything that we put out on our end is automatically sent out to the public,” Frye said. “I think it’s going to be well-received — something as simple as a road closing, we can put out right away.”
The app includes multiple features, such as jail inmate rosters, sex offender registry, location of sex offenders, arson offenders and violent crime offenders within a given area, warrant information, tip submissions, links to official Sherrif social media pages, information on weather advisories and road closures, and events. Schools and other organizations can also utilize the app to get information out to a wider audience.
“It’s for us to be able to communicate, be transparent, and get information to the public as fast as possible,” Frye said.
While Frye said that the Sheriff’s Office is at the mercy of Apple and Google in terms of when the app will become available in the respective stores, the app is already available to Apple users on the App Store. For Android users, Google Play can take up to 10 days to approve an app for their platform. The app will be free on all platforms, and can be found by searching “Shelby County OH.”
“I think it’s going to be a nice addition to some of the things that we’re doing. I’m really happy with it, and if the public likes it and there’s something they’d like on it, we can always go back and add to it,” Frye said. “We’re excited about getting it out there to the public.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.