Marquette sheriff launches app for public safety

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Download the Marquette County sheriff app today on your iPhone or Android. Jesse Wiederhold/NW

Jesse Wiederhold

Public safety begins with a better-informed public. In corroboration with OCV, a private app development firm, the Marquette County Sheriff Office (MCSO) launched an app that takes a step towards proactive safety and protection. The app is informative and students may find what it has to offer valuable.

The app itself, called “Marquette County Sheriff” is free and available for download on iOS and Android. Some useful features are a searchable list of jail inmates, press release notifications and a map of Marquette’s registered sex offenders. The app also hosts a tip line function, where users can leave messages and information for the MCSO.

According to the Marquette County Sheriff, Greg Zyburt, the app accumulated nearly 4,700 downloads since its launch several weeks ago.

“It’s very informational about what our department does,” said Zyburt. “It’s a way for [people] to find out if maybe their suitemates or roommates, or if someone’s missing – maybe they’re in jail. They can just look it up,” Zyburt added.

The launch of this app became necessary after the concerns of its predecessor arose. Some may be familiar with the mobile app MobilePatrol. 

“They offered this app where you could see people who were arrested and in jail,” said Zyburt. He explained that MobilePatrol obtained all of their information from VINE (Victim Information & Notification Everyday), which is a victim safety service of Michigan. “Basically … if I was a victim of domestic violence, I would want to know if the person who assaulted me was getting out of jail,” said Zyburt. “VINE was a way for me to get notified.”

This sounds like a useful system, but there were a few issues with this process.

“Somehow, this MobilePatrol was able to take information from VINE. They put out who was arrested the night before,” said Zyburt. “I didn’t have a problem with that. My problem was they’re getting the information from us. It’s pictures, names, date-of-births and they’re putting it out there but [these people] haven’t been arraigned,” Zyburt stated. This became a major reason why he decided they needed their own service.

“We can’t release information on people unless they’ve been arraigned,” he said. Zyburt explained why this could be an issue. Hypothetically, “a police officer in Ishpeming arrests someone for assault. All the elements aren’t there. It goes to a prosecutor, prosecutor says this is a bunk case, I’m not going to authorize on it. Just let him go.”

This would be unfair to someone wrongfully charged, or if someone was released with no charges pending. Zyburt said that would be a lot of liability. The new Marquette County Sheriff app makes it so that there is no room for speculation. All records are current and come directly from the source. Eliminating the middleman was an important aspect of this modern app creation.

“This app, they sell it to different sheriff agencies throughout the state of Michigan,” said Zyburt. “I thought it would be a good way to get our message across about what we do and be able to inform the people in Marquette County about some of the stuff going on at our office,” he concluded.