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Citizen reportedly plans to test a private security partnership in Chicago

Citizen reportedly plans to test a private security partnership in Chicago


It previously ran a test in Los Angeles

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Citizen Protect screenshots
The interface for Citizen’s Protect subscription service.

Crime reporting app Citizen has reportedly planned a partnership with private security outfit Securitas in Chicago. A report from Motherboard, citing multiple anonymous sources, suggests Citizen remains interested in offering security services despite ongoing concerns about its app.

According to Motherboard, the Chicago Securitas partnership would “function as a check-in service” for users. Securitas could follow up after someone reported a break-in to make sure they’re all right, for instance, or a user could schedule a Securitas visit through Citizen. Citizen already offers a subscription emergency response service called Protect, but it consists of voice or video calls with an agent who can contact traditional emergency services, not a full-fledged security force.

The partnership could offer a “check-in service”

Citizen has trialed private security partnerships before, however. The company dispatched Citizen-branded cars in Los Angeles in 2021, and a Motherboard report detailed plans for an on-demand security force. Citizen confirmed that it had run a “small 30-day trial” of the service but had “no plans to launch our own private security force,” although it didn’t strictly deny that it could hire a firm like Securitas in the future. That said, Motherboard’s description of the new program is more restrained than the options laid out in its earlier plans — where it described something more akin to a private police alternative that could respond to an active crisis.

Services like Securitas obviously aren’t new. But Citizen — whose core service involves letting users see nearby reported nearby crimes and other emergencies — has drawn criticism for encouraging paranoia and even vigilante manhunts through a bounty in one arson case. More broadly, it’s part of a larger trend of selling specialized services through consumer apps.

While a Citizen representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge, the company told Motherboard that “we’re always exploring product features and partnerships that can help keep Citizen users and our communities safer.” The report doesn’t offer a potential timeline for the alleged partnership.