tip411 interviewed Chief Chris Henson of the Groesbeck Police Department about his and his department’s experience with our system.
Q: Tell us about your community and your agency (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A: Groesbeck is a small community in rural Central Texas. Our population is approximately 4,500 and we have a sworn staff of 10 officers. We are located in Limestone County which has a total population of approximately 25,000.
Q: How did you hear about tip411?
A: We originally subscribed to another free service and looked at upgrading to gain more features and benefits. The cost was relatively high for a department our size so I started researching other programs that were more cost-effective and provided additional services. I found tip411 and researched it for several weeks before making the initial inquiry.
Q: Any advice for other agencies considering tip411?
A: tip411 is a great program and will be as successful as you allow it to be. While cost is definitely a factor for an agency our size, it is well worth the money for the customized app and the benefits the program provides. If you’re going to invest in the program, I strongly recommend using it to its full potential.
Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A: We are a relatively low-crime city so we don’t typically have the high profile offenses that our larger counterparts deal with. A large number of our tips concern drug information, routine complaints, and school-related issues. We’ve made several significant narcotic cases with the help of information provided to us through tip411.
We have also partnered with the local school district so the students have the ability to report threats of violence, bullying, or any other offense that occurs at school. When those tips are received, they are immediately forwarded to the campus principal for response unless the complaint requires an immediate police action. We received one tip last year that concerned a threat of potential violence at the local high school. The threat was received on a social media platform by one of the students, and someone from within the school was aware of the threat and immediately forwarded it to tip411. We were able to work with the administration to place the school in a lock-down mode until we could confirm the threat. The investigation led to the suspect who was in another county and not an imminent threat to the school. That tip alone made the program worth every dollar.
Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A: Since we are a small department, I’m able to process the tips that come in. I have a detective assigned to an administrator role as well but I primarily handle the intake and dissemination of tip information.
Q: How has the tip411 system aided your agency?
A: Since we are a small city, citizens find it difficult to come forward and provide information for fear of being identified by other members of the public. tip411 has given them an avenue to provide information to us without revealing their identity. It has also given our youth the ability to have school-related issues addressed without the stigma of reporting to the principal’s office.
Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in your community to make your residents aware of it?
A: We promote the program as often as possible. We typically post our tip411 community alerts to our Facebook page so the reference to tip411 is always made. We’ve done multiple newspaper articles about the program as well as community events and school training on its use.
Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your agency is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
A: I’ve noticed the number of tips increase the more comfortable people get with the level of anonymity. Again, we are a relatively low-crime city so most of our tips revolve around narcotics use or routine, every day complaints. We have some tipsters who use the program instead of going through the dispatch center for normal complaints. That was not our intended purpose, but I don’t want to discourage anyone from using the program so we take any information that is provided to us and handle it accordingly.
Q: What types of tips/situations have you seen tip411 be most useful for your community?
A: It has proven most useful in combatting narcotics within our city and addressing issues within our school district.