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New app allows users to record, automatically report domestic violence

Brooks County first in Coastal Bend to use it
Posted at 6:58 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 19:59:45-05

FALFURRIAS, Texas — A lot of people use apps to browse social media or even order food, but a new app is hoping to curb domestic violence by allowing users to snap video of the perpetrator.

The app is called the Victim Initiated Notification app, or VIN. The video from the app will be automatically sent to law enforcement in 30-second intervals so they can review it and contact the victim.

The app’s creator, Juan Cano, used to be an investigator for the Hidalgo County district attorney. He said it was there that he worked with domestic-violence victims, inspiring him to create the app.

“She had a little girl," he said of one case. "The little girl must’ve been 4 or 5 years old. She never spoke to us, but she would look at us like ‘We need help’.”

So far the app is being used in three counties in Texas: Hidalgo, Willacy, and Brooks counties.

Brooks County attorney David T. Garcia said it rolled out there last week. Dispatch currently hasn’t received any calls from the app, but they are optimistic it will soon help out victims.

Cano said the app will also allow users to be tracked by law enforcement, and add a loved one to be notified when they are being abused. It’s an app that Cano said would help people believe victims even more.

“Not only does it help law enforcement, it gives the victim 100 percent evidentiary data that is necessary to prove that there was a violation of a protective order,” he said.

Cano said the app will also allow users unsure of whether to report their abuse. He said it keep notes of the victim's situation in a diary which law enforcement can then use later if the victim decides to come forward.

He said the app also has a feature that will allow an ambulance to come, and an EMT to speak to a victim about their injuries if they have any.

“The days of the 'he said she said,' the questioning — those days are gone," he said. "We have stopped that. We have stopped that and we are here to help."

Cano said he is currently in talks with Nueces County District Attorney Mark A. Gonzalez to use the app locally. Cano said he is in talks with an organization to get the app, which is available for iPhones and Androids, to other states.

In Brooks county, Garcia said victims must have a history of domestic abuse and have a referral by county officials.

“There’s going to be less hesitation from the victims to use this, and we’re here to put the law enforcement within seconds on top of the situation,” Garcia said.