“I’d rather they engage with us anonymously than not at all. This is what tip411 does, and I’m a true believer in that approach.”

tip411 interviewed Major David Dalton of the Clearwater Police Department in Clearwater, Florida.

Q: Tell us about Clearwater and your department (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A:
Clearwater is a City of about 110,000 residents that spans approximately 25 square miles on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the state’s most populous county, Pinellas. It is the third largest city in the Tampa Bay area and it is a unique city with three separate geographic districts; each district presents its own unique challenges. – The East District is a mostly suburban, residential area with significant shopping and commuter activity. Our West District encompasses our downtown core, a major regional hospital, and other business entities. Our Beach District comprises Clearwater Beach, which is a nationally and internationally known tourist destination, which has been ranked “Best Beach in the United States” several times, as well as the “best Place to Watch a Sunset” in the United States.

The Clearwater Police Department is a mid-size department of 238 sworn officers. As a full service law enforcement agency, we deal with many of the same challenges as much larger cities. We have the added challenge of being host to a significant tourist and Spring Break/Spring Training population visiting our City.  With this influx of visitors and non-residents, as well as people crossing jurisdictional lines frequently and not necessarily knowing it in this small, but populated county, we needed a way for citizens, residents, and business owners to contact us in a manner that is convenient, effective, and cost efficient.

Q: How is tip411 administered in your department department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A:
Initially we started with just tip functionality only. When we launched with tip411 in 2010 we simultaneously began a CompStat program, which was formulated through a centralized Crime Analysis Unit. So, at first, the Crime Analysis Unit and I were the main administrators of the program. When tips came in we would farm them out to patrol, narcotics, etc.

As the popularity of the system grew, we realized there was a need for 24/7 coverage because we wanted to make sure people weren’t texting us tips and then waiting for a response to come during normal business hours. We made a decision as an organization that we wanted give virtual real time feedback to any received tips. That’s when we gave additional responsibility to our Communications Center Supervisors to monitor the system after hours and respond to tips when needed, while the Crime Analysis Unit remains in charge of responding to tips during business hours and cataloging and assigning each received tip.

Our Crime Analysis Unit logs every tip we receive, which has helped us track and report the types of tips we receive, who they are assigned to, and the impact and success of tip411 to our Chief of Police.

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Q: How has the tip411 system aided your department?
A:
From our perspective, it’s a critical and essential tool. I can’t think of another mechanism that gets people to freely engage directly with our Department and give us information on a variety of crimes and problems in their community.

In the past, we may have gotten narcotics tips from residents who were inclined to contact us anyway, but we were missing out on those residents who thought they saw something suspicious or unusual, but didn’t really know who to contact. tip411 helps us with a citywide approach where we’re able to reach across populations, demographics, across crime types, and that’s a huge benefit. In this day and age, virtually everyone has a cellular phone or access to the internet, so it can reach a multitude of populations.

Frankly, I’m okay with people who want to engage with us anonymously – Whatever mechanism they feel comfortable with; you want to give them a tool that they will feel comfortable using. I’d rather they engage with us anonymously than not at all. This is what tip411 does, and I’m a true believer in that approach.

We started off with just tips, and then incorporated citizen alerts through the bundle package, so we were able to send out information vital to different geographic areas in the city and alert citizens about isolated incidents of crime or concerns specific to particular communities. We now have tip411 Pro and our own smartphone app that allows us to not only receive tips, but push out information specific to particular crimes, allows us to share crime mapping information, links to important agency information, as well as our social media accounts.

In 2016, our department received 435 unique tips through tip411, and I truly believe that all of the information we’re getting is intelligence that we probably never would have received if people didn’t have the ability to share it with us quickly, safely, and anonymously.

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Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A:
Many. One that comes to mind is when we had an individual wanted for armed robbery; we had been searching for him locally for quite a while. We got a tip from an individual who knew where he was and we were able to engage with them on tip411 and obtain additional information, which wasn’t included in the original tip. They were able to give us, down to the room number, where he was staying in a hotel in Louisiana. We gave that information to the US Marshals and they were able to apprehend him immediately. It also aided us in obtaining tactical information which was beneficial to our approach to the wanted person.

Another example occurred when we got information via text about a male at a certain location with a significant amount of marijuana. We got the tip, dispatched it quickly to some of narcotics oriented Patrol Officers, and they found nearly a pound of marijuana in the house.

Q: How do you use your department’s social media accounts with tip411 to help get the word out?
A:
We try to get tip411 information out to the public as much as we can to try to maximize its usage by residents and visitors to our area. We use it in virtually every instance in which we ask for the public’s assistance. Even when we use another social media platforms, like Twitter, to shares suspect images, videos, etc., we ask followers to submit information using tip411. It doesn’t matter to our agency if it is a routine retail theft case or a murder investigation, we include that as a resource to the public.

Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in Clearwater?
A:
We try to feature it prominently on our website and we push it out as I said through Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. In every community alert that we send, we include our tip411 information. We put it on flyers, on crime alerts – just about anything we send to the public.

When we canvass neighborhoods and leave door hangers, our tip411 info is on them. We include it on our business cards, just about anywhere imaginable, so that tip411 is virtually synonymous – in the public’s mind – with the Clearwater Police Department.

Q: So, why tip411?
A: To me, one of the most significant aspects of tip411 is the “loop of communication” it creates, with the anonymous tipping and community alerts working together. Anyone can have what they describe as an “anonymous” tip service, but people are smart and they know if they have to send a tip through their email, that someone could trace it back to them one way or another.

That’s why, prior to tip411, we’ve had very limited success with other types of “anonymous” reporting services, because they know it could be tracked and that causes the public to be reticent to share information.  Our experience is that the public feels comfortable that they are truly anonymous with tip411 and that allows us to not only receive tips and information, but also have an opportunity to build trust and have additional communication with them.

Marion County Sheriff’s kick off text to tip app

Marion County residents can now report crime tips via text message.

The new text-to-tip program, tip411, allows Marion County Sheriff’s Office to help connect with the community.

The program lets users report crime tips and suspicious activities by sending an anonymous text message from their cellphone or through a free app called MCSO In The Know.

“We believe an informed community is a safer community,” said Lt. Chris Baldridge,  Marion County Sheriff’s public information officer.

MCSO In The Know gives officers the ability respond back by creating an anonymous two-way conversation.

The technology utilized in the app removes identifying information from users before messages reach police.

In addition to the two-way text conversations, the sheriff’s office will inform registered app users of public safety alerts by sending emails, text messages and app alerts.

Anonymous crime tips can also be shared by sending by texting “TipMCSO” and their message to 847411, or tip411.

Read the full story from the Statesman Journal.

New JPD App Gives Public More Options To Send Tips

A simple tip is often all it takes to bring a criminal to justice.

In fact, the Jamestown Police Department has, on more than one occasion, acknowledged public tips as a major crime-fighting tool.

For this reason, a new app, simply entitled the Jamestown PD app, was employed to further enhance public engagement, giving residents a new, convenient platform to offer information.

Developed by tip411, the Jamestown PD app allows the public to share anonymous tips, receive alerts and access information right from their Smartphones.

Residents without a smartphone will still be able to send an anonymous text tip via their cellphone by texting keyword JPDTIP and their message to 847411 (tip411).

“(Tips) are very important to us,” said Captain Robert F. Samuelson, division commander of the JPD. “We’ve enjoyed the relationship we’ve had with the community through our anonymous tip line … and this (app) is just going to be another tool that they can use.”

Read the full story from The Post-Journal

Poughkeepsie, NY Police Use tip411 to Share Halloween Safety Tips

Helping residents prepare for Halloween this weekend is important, and the Poughkeepsie, NY Police Department used their tip411 system to send community alerts to residents via email and text message with helpful tips to keep safe.

Halloween Tips for Parents

  • Make sure costumes fit well and that they are short enough to prevent tripping.
  • Consider using hypoallergenic make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct your child’s vision.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Make certain costumes are flame-retardant.

Halloween Tips for Homeowners

  • Clear your yard and sidewalk of any obstacles or decorations that may be hard to see in the dark. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, garden hoses or anything that may be hazardous to young children rushing through the neighborhood.
  • Keep your home well lit, inside and out.

To see the full alerts, click here for Halloween Tips for Parents and here for Halloween Tips for Homeowners.

Delhi Township Police Thank Residents for Tips that Lead to Arrest

From the Delhi Township, Ohio Police Department:

THANK YOU! Subject was identified and arrested!

UPDATE: Shortly after the original alert (below) was sent out, numerous TIPS came in identifying the suspect. Based on the tips, the suspect was identified as Kevin Taylor age 37. Kevin was arrested last night and charged with the burglary from Mayhew. Thanks to the quick responses from people we were able to arrest the burglar the same day that the report was filed.

We appreciate all the shares, willingness to get involved, and the anonymous tips!

ORIGINAL ALERT: Burglary took place on 09/06/2016 at approximately 6:52am in the 4400 block of Mayhew Avenue. A male subject, pictured below, forced entry through a rear window and removed U.S. Currency from inside the residence. The male subject then fled the scene. Anyone with information on the incident or the identity of the subject, please contact Delhi Township Police Department at (513)922-0060. You may also submit an ANONYMOUS TIP by clicking on the link below.

Delhi Incident – # 16-12557

Click here to see the full alert and more information.

Yonkers PD Use tip411 to Promote National Night Out

On the evening of Tuesday August 2nd, the Yonkers Police Department will once again be participating in National Night Out (NNO) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at four locations throughout the city.  NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our communities safer, better places to live.  NNO events will take place in all 50 states.

“National Night Out is a great opportunity for our residents to interact with their local police and community,” said Mayor Mike Spano. “Yonkers has the greatest police department in the country and these events will remind our neighbors that our police are here to serve and keep our streets and families safe.”  Each Precinct Community Council, which is made up of volunteer residents, plans their own NNO event with their local precinct command staff.

There will be activities for all ages including live entertainment, vendors, free handouts, police equipment demos, K-9 demos, and crime prevention materials.  Officers from each of our four precincts, Community Affairs, Emergency Service Unit, Fleet Services, and the Yonkers Youth Police Initiative (YPI) will be present at all four locations.

Police Commissioner Charles Gardner stated “National Night Out gives us another opportunity to strengthen bonds with our residents.  I want to thank the local Precinct Community Councils and our Officers for all of their efforts in planning this great evening out for our residents.  The successes that we have had here in Yonkers over the last few years would not be possible without our community members and this gives us a chance to thank them and have some fun at the same time.”

See the full notice sent to residents using tip411