LOS ANGELES (KABC) --The Los Angeles Police Department sought community support for its i-Watch app aimed at gathering tips about potential plots to commit violence.
From the massacre at an Orlando night club, to the shooting of five Dallas police officers, to the terror attack in San Bernardino, the public's inevitable question for police is how the attacks could have been stopped.
"The only way we could stop it is to have a flow of information from the public," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
The i-WATCH app is a model that is being adopted throughout the nation. A public service announcement highlights incidents that uncovered criminal acts.
"When officers respond to the smell of gas coming from an apartment they find evidence of possible links to terrorism," said one video announcement.
To publicize the i-Watch app, a donation was approved by the police commission on Tuesday from Clear Channel Outdoor. It was billboard space valued at $75,000.
LAPD critics said they don't trust the program, alleging that members of the black community were disproportionately reported and investigated.
"This counter terrorism program opens up secret files on people involved in benign every day behavior," activist Jamie Garcia stated.
Beck said there were strict rules about intelligence information.
"We jealously guard folks' First Amendment rights and their right to be free from police search," Beck said.
The challenge to the i-Watch app comes as LAPD seeks public trust. While commission meetings provide a forum for all kinds of dissent, Beck reported that positive talks were held in Washington, D.C. and in South Los Angeles this week with new groups joined to seek solutions.
Among the groups included celebrity rappers, Nation of Islam minister Tony Muhammed, and a thousand gang members.
"Everyone was respectful, everyone listened to everyone's point of view," Beck said.
The engagement was vital he said because of the 1,100 people who were killed in Los Angeles in 2015. Overwhelmingly both the offender and the victim were young men of color, the LAPD reported.