Crime reporting app Citizen hires NYPD's Peter Donald as comms head

When it was still branded as Vigilante, Donald played a critical role as an NYPD spokesperson in getting the app banned from Apple's App store.

Peter Donald
Peter Donald

NEW YORK: Crime reporting app Citizen has hired Peter Donald, the New York Police Department’s assistant commissioner for communication and public information, as head of policy and communications, a newly created position.

Donald officially starts in December and will be based in New York. Reporting to Citizen CEO Andrew Frame, Donald will oversee all external affairs, including communications, policy, and government affairs.

"I am beyond proud to have worked for the best police department in the world – that made New York America’s safest city – with the finest professionals in our business," Donald said in a prepared statement. "I am eager to join Citizen to continue keeping people informed about their safety and using technology to help people when it matters most."

The Citizen app, which alerts users to nearby crimes, originally launched in 2016 with the name Vigilante and rebranded last March to Citizen. The app has run afoul of law enforcement agencies. When it was still branded as Vigilante, Donald played a critical role as an NYPD spokesperson in getting the app banned from Apple’s App store, Frame said in a statement.

The NYPD told media outlets at the time that "crimes in progress should be handled by the NYPD and not a vigilante with a cellphone."

 "I’ve loved [Donald’s] work ever since then," Frame said. "We are now joining forces to protect the world."

Former NYPD police commissioner William Bratton hired Donald in 2015.

Bratton said in a statement that Donald "built broad recognition for neighborhood policing, the creation of the Critical Response Command and Strategic Response Group to more quickly stop an active shooter, the use of new technology that reduced response times to serious crimes, and the continued crime reduction in the nation’s safest city."

No replacement has been named at the NYPD.

Earlier in his career, Donald served at the FBI as a spokesperson for its New York office. He managed communications for major news stories such as the investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the renewed search in 2012 for Etan Patz, who disappeared in Manhattan in 1979, when he was a six-year-old boy.

He also worked to publicize the FBI’s crackdown on insider trading and produced a PSA featuring Michael Douglas reprising his iconic Gordon Gekko role from the classic film Wall Street. The announcement received front-page coverage in The Wall Street Journal and by major TV networks.

"[His] prior service with the FBI strengthened a critical relationship with our most important law enforcement partner – that has inevitably made this city even safer," Bratton said in a statement.

Prior to the FBI, Donald was a senior associate at integrated communications and event management firm Smith Fairfield in Washington, DC, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also previously served as a national advance representative for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.

In 2014, Donald was named one of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 honorees.

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