Anyone who witnesses a crime or can provide information on wrongdoing can use a free anonymous cell phone application to text police.
The county’s social media-based tip411 application was unveiled Tuesday by the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and local police. The system has been used in Westchester County, as well as across the state and nation.
While police still want emergency calls to go to 911, tip411 is geared toward texting tips and video and could overcome fears of witness intimidation, authorities said during a news conference at the District Attorney’s Office in the Rockland Courthouse.
The application also allows for receiving police alerts and social media channels.
“Giving the public the ability to anonymously communicate with police will allow people to provide key information without fear of reprisal,” District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said. “Tip411 will also help to alleviate a lack of witness cooperation, which has hampered the investigative process in many criminal cases.”
The targeted audience is especially young people, who are rarely without their cell phones.
“Tell a young person to make a phone call and they don’t want to,” Zugibe said. “Tell them to send a text message, no problem.”
Police said the system enables people to send anonymous tips about crime, drugs, bullying and suspicious activity to their local police department with officers able to respond, creating a two-way chat.
Three ways to send tips:
- Send anonymous text tips to 847411 – tip411- then type keyword “rocklandcoda” add a space, type your tip info and hit send.
- An anonymous tip can be sent through the free RocklandCo DA Smartphone app for iPhone and Android or tablet.
- Use the anonymous web tip form at the District Attorney’s Office at http://www.rocklandgov.com.
Police said the tip system has been used in Westchester County for nearly six years and has helped solve “cold cases.”
The system costs $17,000 for 24 months. The cost is paid through funds seized from criminal enterprises, District Attorney’s Office Capt. Brendan Donohue said.
All tips will be investigated just as if a person called in on the telephone or walked into a police station, authorities said, referring to people submitting false information.
Zugibe also said the information is not prosecution testimony.
“This is not a substitute to testimony,” he said. “This will be a valuable investigative tool.”