Lompoc police said some residents are turning to their app for emergencies instead of calling 911 for help and that could spell disastrous results.
"The app was never intended to replace 911,” said Srgt. Kevin Martin with the Lompoc Police Department.
The department's app launched in November 2015. It’s an effective way to communicate with the community because it allows police to have eyes and ears in places they can’t be.
Martin said the app has been downloaded more than 13,000 times and said it's an impressive number for a city of about 45,000 people.
"It’s a form of communication that is not emergency based,” said Martin. He said that in a case of an emergency such finding yourself in imminent danger, a weapon is involved or witness a domestic dispute, call 911. Using the app could delay officers from getting to you.
"We want to get officers out there quickly and hopefully prevent any dangers,” said Martin. When someone submits a tip through the app supervisors and dispatchers are alerted, according to Martin. However, if those dispatchers are busy with 911 calls it could take some time for them to read it.
"If a guy behind a desk is not checking it right away people need to call 911 instead of hoping an app [message] gets answered,” said Isaac Gomez, a Lompoc resident. He suggested people use it as a tool to stay informed about things happening in the community.
"Maybe have it as an informational piece--as a way to look at what the police is doing,” said Gomez.
Lompoc police said they hope this serves as a reminder to people using the app.