MIAMI, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Uber is launching a program that encourages drivers to report any suspicious activity of riders to the police.
The program, which is coordinated with Crime Stoppers USA, will launch in five U.S. cities: Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta; Indianapolis; New Orleans; and Las Vegas. It will utilize an app that allows drivers to send anonymous tips to law enforcement via Crime Stoppers, which already has networks set-up in those five cities. Crime Stoppers sometimes give cash rewards to tipsters and Uber drivers will also be eligible for compensation.
Drivers, who are not classified as employees of Uber but are considered independent contractors, will not receive any special training about what activity they should report.
"They are encouraged to report any information that they see or hear about during their travel," Barb Bergin, chairwoman of Crime Stoppers USA, told UPI, adding: "Uber encourages the drivers to beware of potential human-trafficking situations and other crimes. Bottom line is if drivers are concerned or suspicious they are encouraged to report."
Law enforcement agencies in the cities where the programs have launched have relationships with Crime Stoppers. But in Jacksonville, no special arrangements are being made to accommodate the Uber program.
"We don't have anything to do with that," Melissa Buejda, the public information officer for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said of the Uber-Crime Stoppers program. But she said that JSO does receive anonymous tips via Crime Stoppers "all the time."
The situation is different in Atlanta, where the Atlanta Police Department has a full-time employee tasked with acting as a liaison between Crime Stoppers and investigators, APD public affairs director Carlos Campos said.
In a statement announcing the program, Uber said the new program is part of the company's growing effort to cooperate with law enforcement agencies around the world.
"Uber has invested in a global team of former law enforcement professionals, response team specialists and an online portal for law enforcement use only. These three components work together to inform, cooperate with, and respond to law enforcement's investigative needs," said Mike Sullivan, the head of Uber's global law enforcement operations.
In addition to the five U.S. cities, the Uber and Crime Stoppers program also launched in two Canadian cities -- Toronto and Ottawa -- and there are plans to launch in Latin America, as well.
In October, Uber was one of several tech companies, NGOs and law enforcement agencies that signed the Hague Accord at the Crime Stoppers International conference in The Netherlands. According to CSI, the accord is "an effort to lead a progressive movement to empower communities to take action against criminals and criminal networks through anonymous reporting networks."
Although Uber is encouraging drivers to report suspicious activity, the company cooperates with law enforcement by providing them with data on riders.
In its latest transparency report, released in July, state and federal law enforcement agencies requested information on more than 17,000 riders and nearly 2,600 drivers during 2017.
Of those requests, Uber complied fully or partially in about 70 percent of cases, according to the report.