Child acting up? There's a cop for that.
Mick Keehan, a veteran Palm Beach Police Department lieutenant, was with his young children in a Palm Beach County mall last August when the two started causing a fuss. That's when the idea came to him that maybe an app could help him out.
"I was thinking how nice it would be to have a police officer call your phone so he could talk to your children," said Keehan, who lives with his family in Wellington.
So he got to work in his off-time on creating a mobile smartphone app that would do just that. He hired a company in India to develop the app for both Apple and Android platforms — spending $2,500 for each version — and came up with a name: Fake Police Call.
In January, the app went live. Keehan says he averages about 100 to 200 downloads a day for the free version of the app and about 20 downloads for the full version, which costs 99 cents.
The app is meant to act as an extra tool in a parents' disciplinary toolbox, Keehan says. For example, say a child is refusing to clean his or her room. A parent can use the app to put their youngster in touch with the app's 'police officer,' Sgt. Friendly.
Sgt. Friendly, who is actually a series of recorded messages by a voice actor, is ready to respond with words of wisdom for 14 pre-determined scenarios that parents often face. In this case, a parent would find the 'Not cleaning up room' tab to trigger a phone call from the sergeant.
A few seconds later, Sgt. Friendly calls. When the phone is passed to the child, they'll hear Sgt. Friendly come on the phone amid blaring sirens in the background. He'll speak to the child in a firm – yet friendly, of course – tone about why it's important to clean the room.
"I don't want to scare kids, I want them to like this character," Keehan said.
If the child does what is asked, the parent can then have Sgt. Friendly call back with praise. The sirens start blaring again, and he signs off by saying he has to go catch some bad guys.
Other scenarios included in the app are misbehaving at a mall, misbehaving in a restaurant and not doing homework.
Keehan said his own two children, ages 3 and 5, responded well when he tried out the app on them.
"My son, he wasn't wearing his seat buckle," Keehan said. "I played the app for him when I first got it, and he immediately put it on. He thought it was a cool phone call."
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