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San Bernardino police digitize community-oriented policing services

San Bernardino Police Department

San Bernardino, CA

The San Bernardino Police Department offered common services to residents via the city’s website but the services were not mobile friendly or easily accessible. Now, using a mobile app, the police department can offer the city's 250,000 citizens a free, secure way to stay engaged and involved in public safety.

Topics Covered

Civic Technology
Law Enforcement and Emergency Response


Initial: 25 Thousand USD


Federal grants

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Gov Champion

Lieutenant Michele Mahan, Emergency Operations

Problem Addressed

San Bernardino's Police Department wanted to give residents more ways to engage with the department and easily access services.

While the San Bernardino Police Department (SBPD) offered common services like record requests and crime mapping on the city website, they were difficult to find. Sometimes residents don’t speak the same “lingo” used by the PD or don’t use the exact terms for the search - making access to these services a challenge. PDs spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on services that save residents time and money. However, these services are often inconvenient for the public to use and require technical PD staff to administer. The lack of quick access to services ultimately costs police departments more money and time spent answering non-emergency 911 calls.

Like other departments, SBPD also wanted to improve its public reputation by giving residents more ways to be engaged not only with the department but also with their own safety. The department wanted to lessen its reliance on social media, which many residents choose not to use at all and where public feedback can quickly get out of hand. The PD was looking to proactively alert residents in real-time and by geographical-based districts across its ~65 square miles of jurisdiction. For example, the PD wanted to make it quick and easy to distribute public BOLOs or “Be On the Lookout” notifications which include license plate numbers or a picture of a suspicious person. By sharing this information with the public, the police department can communicate potential threats as well as enlist their help.

Because the PD operates programs involving residents and local businesses, a much-needed requirement was for a native-mobile calendar where residents can easily save events on their Apple or Android smartphones.

SBPD Interim Chief McBride: “Most people don’t have desktops anymore. Trying to run a desktop-based program on your phone doesn’t format well. We wanted to make the process simple, easy, and adaptive for people to make requests. It's just more efficient. People want to make a report and be done with it, without having to wait for a police officer.”

The RFP’s scope of work requirements included:

- The ability to publish public safety alerts and push real-time notifications (preferably to users in specific geographic boundaries) to application users;

- A page to highlight frequently asked questions and answers;

- An application capable of operation on both Android and IOS platforms;

- The capability for the PD administration to access, create, and alter content within the application along with the ability to manage user roles and permissions;

- Allow administrative users to construct a single social media post within the application that will format and publish those posts to the department’s various social media pages;

Solutions Used

The Police Department improved how residents can engage with the department and access services via a new communications channel.

CityGuards by ITsimple is a solution designed and built for community-oriented policing. CityGuards is powered by SpotlightCMS, ITsimple’s cloud-based SaaS content management system. The San Bernardino, California police department now has a way to offer its community a free non-registration mobile application to stay engaged and involved with public safety. CityGuards doesn’t collect user personal information so there’s absolutely no privacy concerns from the public and the PD enjoys a liability risk-free communications channel to officially engage with the local community. SBPD understands that trending public opinions and movements like “defund the police or black lives matter” starts within the community, so engaging the community needs to be an essential part of the solution.

SpotlightCMS web-based and mobile-responsive administrative portal is easily operated by non-technical officers on staff even from an iPad or an Android tablet in the field.

“The administrative portal is simple and clear that we could make things happen even before the training because of the intuitive design of it,” said Lieutenant Michele Mahan, Emergency Operations.

SpotlightCMS enables the officers to quickly post a BOLO to CityGuards and post it simultaneously to the department's Facebook and Twitter channels with the check of a box. The platform saves the team time and expands its control over which content should go to social media and which should only live on CityGuards where the public can share feedback and respond directly to the correspondence officer on the PD team.

CityGuards is a much needed solution to complement the website, bringing information and online services to mobile. It becomes the “main hub” for residents to freely and securely engage with the PD. Now, saving, sharing, and even navigating to a community public event such as a "Join the PD" job fair, community cookout, police academy classes, or simply meeting with the local patrol officers is only one tap away. CityGuards even helped the PD spotlight its recruiting and volunteering efforts by building out a large JOIN button on the app's "main stage." Clicking on "Join" links the user to a department video and a "quick apply” job button where interested candidates can easily submit their resume and application.



It now takes 2-3 seconds to find any service offered by the police department compared to clicking on multiple links on the previous website.


Citizens have an easy, accessible way to engage with the police department as well as manage public safety.


Fully ADA compliant end user mobile app, and a mobile-friendly administrative portal integrated with social media channels.


One (1) unified platform to manage all engagement channels including public surveys and polls. Zero (0) technical knowledge required to operate.

Lessons Learned


Understaffed teams can save money, time and significantly increase their productivity by using ONE unified engagement platform.


CityGuards gives residents information and services quick access options and perfectly complements the web site by enabling notifications and the ability to save events with ease.

Something Unique

ITsimple worked with the SBPD team to identify and build out desired functionalities that were not part of the RFP scope of work. These changes in design included building out a "join" button that spotlighted the PD's recruiting efforts, as well as featuring SBPD's podcast series SBPD Briefing Room.

Who Should Consider

Any size police or sheriff's department practicing community policing and looking to have the public be part of the solution by improving resident communications and engagement.

Last Updated

Aug 12th, 2022
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