DART unveils new app for passengers to report crimes

DART has unveiled its latest tool to give riders a sense of safety after a series of high-profile incidents on its trains.

A new DART Say Something app will allow riders to report a crime in progress in real time at DART stations and trains. The hope is to get officers out faster and stop the criminals before they get away.

The entire DART system covers 700 square miles, so there's a good chance police won't know a crime is being committed unless you let them know about it.

With the new app, riders can now instantly text or call police and can even upload video or pictures using a smartphone.

Ashley Barnette is a daily DART train rider. She rides with her eight-month-old daughter, Heartley. Most days, she feels safe. But there's been a few times when the single mother says she's felt uneasy.

“I’ve been on the train before when some stuff has happened,” she said. “And I've had to press that button right there. But I press the button, and nothing really comes about. There's nothing they can really do.”

In an effort to address ongoing safety concerns raised by some commuters, DART police rolled out the new app for its 233,000 daily riders.

DART Police Chief James Spiller says the free app is a way for people to report crime in real time, prompting a quicker response by police officers.

“With that direct contact, customers are empowered to let us know when things are happening,” he said.

DART employees blanketed busy train stations and bus stops on Wednesday to informing riders of the new app. There are also signs posted at some platforms.

“I think it's a good idea,” said DART rider Chris Bonar. “I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know how well it works in practice. But I think the concept is a good one.”

DART also says by the end of the month there will be a DART police officer, security guard or fare enforcer on every train. By 2020, Chief Spiller says all DART trains will be equipped with security cameras.

For Barnette, the safety improvements equal peace of mind. She says the app is another layer of security she will surely use.

DART says nearly 7,000 people have already downloaded the DART Say Something app.