PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office is diving into the digital world, channeling new ways to connect with the public.

The office is following suit of several Sheriff Departments in the state by rolling out a new mobile app with the goal of expanding community outreach and communication.

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins said the app is an easier way to both send and receive urgent information without the hassle of using social media.

“Having those push notifications through your cellphone, without being on social media, is key,” Watkins said. “If we have a missing child, an adult, I can get that information out there instantly to anybody that has our app.”

He said not many people have social media, but since most people have phones, the app can reach a wide audience.

“If you’re busy, you might not check your social media account for five hours so now something that was important and put out there, you don’t know about it until you physically go to your social media account and check,” Watkins said. “Now if you got your push notifications going on, you get that instantly.”

Watkins said the app will not only keep the public aware of what’s going on in the outside world, but also records of inmates. He said it can be a useful tool for safety and also potential employment.

“You can check to see if you have a sex offender in your neighborhood,” Watkins said. “You can put in a tip, you can apply for a job and get those push notifications when there’s an emergency out there. We can get that out there immediately.”

The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office launched its app back in January 2020.

Sheriff Jeff Lower said they’ve gotten positive feedback from residents, officers, and even attorneys.

“I’ve had attorneys come up and tell me they appreciate the app because they’re able to get instant information about in custody’s, about warrants,” Lower said.

He said their app cuts out the middle man for communication with the public and allows them to provide more information than before.

“You can go on there and look at every warrant we have, rules, bonding, all the information people are generally calling and looking for,” Lower said.

Watkins said Peoria County’s app will be available on the Google and Apple app stores in the next couple of weeks.