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New app in Newberry County boosts communication between officials, victims of a crime

It's simply a quicker way to get victims information on their investigations, and as Sheriff Foster says, it's breaking ground.

Newberry County, SC (WLTX) -- It's a new application for officials in Newberry County, and it's meeting the needs of victims of crimes while staying true to the ever-evolving digital age.

Sheriff Lee Foster sat down with News 19 Wednesday evening to show us how it works.

"We're just keeping up with the times," said Newberry County Sheriff, Lee Foster.

His deputies are now using a new app that boosts communication between officials and victims of a crime.

"That's what it's all about. Keep the victims informed so they know what's going on in the system," said Foster. "We just have found that since so many people use a cell phone, so many people have it with them in most cases, this is the best method we could use to notify them."

Foster says the department worked with a software developer to invent this concept, and it's easy to use.

When a deputy is on a call that requires them to keep in contact with the victim with updates on a crime, they enter the person's information into their cell phone.

For those worried about safety and security of the app, deputies enter the information they're given into a database that's only accessible to the county's investigative and administrative units.

After the information is entered into the system, the victim is then sent an electronic packet with information about their case.

From there, text messages will be sent anytime there's an update in the investigation.

"The old way would revolve around telephone calls or letters in the mail, and if that didn't work, we actually had to send deputies out to try to locate them so we'd let them know. Such as when somebody's being realeased from jail, or such as a change of status of the defendant in the case," said Foster. "Whether the defendant is in jail or the defendant has been arrested, or he is in jail and the custody status, they'll get e-mails and text messages throughout the process."

It's simply a quicker way to get victims information, and as Sheriff Foster says, it's breaking ground.

"We're certainly the first in the state to use this type of system on an application on a cell phone and an electronic packet," he said. "According to our software vendor who worked on this with us to design it, they believe it's the first in the nation to do it in the way that we are doing it."

The app is already in use. In fact, Sheriff Foster says text messages were an ideal way to get one victim information, since she was being harassed through phone calls.

"We had one lady that said she was very concerned because she had ended up having to not answer telephone calls because she was being harassed by the defendant and the defendant's family," said Foster. "So she quit answering the telephone, but she would take text messages and e-mails and those were getting to her."

The next step for the app is to get the Magistrates Office and Solicitor's Office on board, so they can notify victims in the future should there be a need.