West Genesee High School Sign

Anonymous tips service from tip411 helps Central New York schools with security and threat prevention

School security is under the microscope due to recent events. Some New York State schools, including at least six in Onondaga County, have implemented an anonymous tip service from tip411 as a proactive approach to protecting the physical and mental health of students.

West Genesee High School is one of many schools across New York State that now use tip411, an anonymous communication tool that lets schools and law enforcement know about a variety of things happening on campus.

“We have a mix of different types of tips. Some are things about the parking lot and someone driving erratically that they want us to look into,” said West Genesee High School Principal Tracy Klefbeck.

Schools also get tips regarding bullying, harassment, vaping, drugs and alcohol, as well as threats of violence.

“And this has been really wonderful for us in that we have the ability to reach back out to the tipster ask follow-up questions, encourage them, depending on the tip to come meet with administration or a counselor,” said Klefbeck.

Joseph Coolican, first chief assistant district attorney for Onondaga County, says they have used tip411 across the county and in schools for six years.

“In today’s society, there’s a tremendous reluctance to be linked to reporting crimes to law enforcement,” said Coolican.

Coolican says over six years, more than 11,000 anonymous tips from tip411 have come into the sheriff’s department, and guaranteed anonymity is the key to getting them.

“Your identity will never be revealed in police paperwork, in court, or anywhere else. But it does give the police a lead to start tracking down and doing their job and investigating things before they go very badly. And it’s a two-way street. We absolutely depend on citizens reaching out and notifying law enforcement,” he said.

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Spectrum News: CNY anonymous tip line seeks to bolster school security, threat prevention

West Genesee Schools Website: West Genesee Schools tip411 Information

Tip Technology Helps Solve Crime

White Paper: Anonymous Tip Technology Helps Law Enforcement Solve Crimes

Terry Halsch, President and CEO, tip411/Citizen Observer
Law enforcement agencies are finding great success utilizing web-based anonymous tip software tools. These tools allow the public to submit anonymous tips to law enforcement agencies, most often via customized agency mobile apps and text messages. The agency can then use the web-based tool to respond to the tipster, creating an anonymous, two-way conversation with the tipster. There are several characteristics of these tools that helps agency’s find success.
One key feature of these tools is that the anonymity of the tipster is protected. This provides community members the confidence that they can share vital information without sacrificing their identity.
The Wilmington, North Carolina, Police Department is an agency that recognizes the importance of tipster anonymity. Brandon Shope, communications specialist with the Wilmington Police Department said, “We do not see who sends us the tips; all of that information is scrubbed completely. Our STING Center is able to communicate with the tipster directly in a 100% anonymous way.”
Shope says many community members have downloaded the mobile app that is a component of their anonymous tip tool, and tips received via the tool have assisted the police department with solving crimes through the years, such as larcenies, hit-and-runs, and homicides.
“Our officers work daily to keep our community safe. As technology evolves, so do we,” Shope said. “We wanted to provide citizens with an alternative method to sending in tips anonymously.”
The San Joaquin County, California, Sheriff’s Office also uses an anonymous tip tool. According to Public Information Office Jennifer Kline, “Everything is 100% anonymous. You can send anonymous tips to the police about crimes, drugs, bullying, suspicious activity and more. People may sometimes be afraid to call the police with information, but the system removes your name, your phone number, your address. It just gives us a tip, and that access to talk to you back and forth. We embrace new technology because it helps our detectives, it helps our officers, and it helps the community.”
Two-Way Conversation
Another key component of anonymous tip tools is the ability to have a two-way conversation with the tipster utilizing the tool.
According to Peoria, Illinois, Police Chief Eric Echevarria, “It opens up that line of communication like never before, when you could only get a tip or get some information from a third party who would then send it to the police. This allows us to communicate back and forth anonymously.” 
Peoria’s police department received 171 tips in the last four months through their system and were able to both make arrests and move forward with investigations through these anonymous tipsters.

Anonymous tip tools that utilize admin mobile apps allow agency admin users to view incoming tips and respond to tipsters using their mobile devices.
By providing member of the public with an anonymous tool to submit tips, a sense of trust is developed between community members and the agency.
Crestwood, Missouri, Chief Jonathan Williams said, “tip411 is going to be a better way for us to connect with the community, keep people informed and let them keep us informed. We are a community outreach-based organization and this is one more tool to better connect to the community. It’s exactly what we have been looking for.”
Crestwood Police Officer Dion Olson added, “We are such a community-oriented department. Our community comes first every day and when we put this uniform on, we pledge to do our best for Crestwood and this app is going to be able to continue that spirit of doing our best for the community.”
Some anonymous tip tools include a mobile app, customized for the agency, that makes it convenient for community members to submit a tip.
According to East Providence, Rhode Island, Police Chief Christopher Francesconi,
“Our goal is to make it easy for the people of East Providence to communicate with our department, and, by working together, continue to make East Providence an exceptional place to live, work and visit.  With our new mobile app, we have added another way for the community to access our department so that we may respond to any concerns and continue to keep our community safe.”
Tips Lead to Information to Close Cases
Along with improved communication with the public, agencies are seeking information to help reduce crime.  Anonymous tip tools help agencies gather information that assist them in solving cases or prevent criminal acts.
For example, anonymous tips helped the Asheville, North Carolina. Police make the largest single fentanyl seizure in their county’s history. Asheville Police Chief David Zack says,
“After receiving information about a suspect’s involvement in drug sales in Asheville, including tips from our mobile app, our officers were able to use that information to make the arrest. This is a significant drug arrest which removes a large amount of this deadly drug from our streets, much in thanks to the support we receive from the community sharing your tips.”
In Parker County, Texas, tips submitted using the Parker County Sheriff mobile app led to the arrest of a suspect wanted for multiple vehicle burglaries. According to Sheriff Russ Authier, “Our Criminal Investigations Division investigators obtained the warrants for his arrest once the press release and photos were posted and tipsters contacted us with his possible identity. We received dozens of anonymous tips. Our CID investigators located and arrested the male suspect within hours. The tips submitted also helped our investigators identify and locate the female suspect. We would like to thank the public for their assistance in this case.”
Value of Anonymous Tip Solutions to Schools
According to the Safe School Initiative report by the U.S. Secret Service, prior to most school attacks, other people knew about the attacker’s idea or plan to attack. In over three-quarters of the incidents, at least one person had information that the attacker was thinking about or planning the school attack. In nearly two-thirds of the incidents, more than one person had information about the attack before it occurred.
By providing a safe space  such as an anonymous tip system in school environments students, parents, faculty, or staff who  may have preexisting knowledge about future incidents like mass casualty events, fights, contraband sales, or other concerns can communicate directly with school personnel and law enforcement to prevent these incidents from occurring.
Whether it is members of the public communicating with law enforcement or students communicating with school administration, providing a safe space to for community members to get involved to do the right thing, often before something very bad is going to happen, is essential to modern policing. Users of these solutions, including tip411, see higher levels of trust within the communities they serve and more open communication, as well as enjoying a capability to build and maintain meaningful relationships with those they serve daily. 
tip411 is a web-based tool set for law enforcement that features custom, agency branded iPhone and Android mobile apps; 2-way anonymous text tips; and community alerts via text, email, and social media integration. tip411 helps agencies connect with their community in real time, engage citizens by allowing them to submit vital information to law enforcement across multiple channels, and build and maintain meaningful relationships with those whom they serve.

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Asheville Police Use tip411 to Help With 24 Open Investigations

The Asheville, NC Police Intern Unit of APD’s Criminal Investigation Division charged a total of 24 persons in connection with open investigations with the support of the agency’s tip411 tool, which allows the public to submit anonymous tips to the agency.

APD currently has 12 officers and 2 sergeants participating in the detective internship program. Most of those officers volunteer to come in 2 days a month on their time off.

The Asheville Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating the individuals. If you would like to anonymously share information you can text TIP2APD to 847411, or use the TIP2APD smartphone app.

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Kokomo Police Cruiser

Kokomo Police Use New Tool from tip411 to Receive Tips on Violent Crime

The Kokomo, IN Police Department, concerned about a recent increase in shootings, is asking the public to join the fight to curb violent crime. They’re now partnering with tip411, a tool that allows the public to submit anonymous tips to the agency. 

“Our goal is to make it easy for the citizens of Kokomo to communicate with our department, and, by working together, continue to make Kokomo an exceptional place to live, work and visit,” said Police Chief Douglas Stout. “We are realistic enough to understand that no one wants to ‘get involved,’ but the only other option for a community is to sit back and allow violent crime to happen.” 

Citizens can submit tips via text message, mobile app or web tip form.

“They can send us an anonymous tip on any information that’s occurring in their neighborhood or any information they have concerning a crime,” said Major Brian Seldon.

Police administrators can also publish alerts to targeted public and private groups via email and text message.

Kokomo resident Tammy Wilson said she would use it. “It’s (not) snitching,” she said. “It’s about saving people’s lives.”

Read More Kokomo PD using new tool to get community to help with tips on violent crime

Help Fight Crime with tip411

Rockland County, NY DA Uses Community Partners to Promote tip411

The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has joined law enforcement agencies around the country in using tip411 to receive anonymous tips from citizens. This service allows any resident who has a smartphone, tablet, or a computer the ability to report an anonymous tip.

The Rockland County DA is grateful for community partners for helping promote this important program by displaying business cards that any individual can take in heavily trafficked businesses, with Hogan’s Diner in the Town of Orangetown (seen above) as an example.

Rockland County residents can submit a tip via text message to by texting the keyword ROCKLANDCODA and then their tip and sending it to 847411. Residents can also download the free RocklandCo DA mobile app, developed by tip411, on the iPhone App Store or the Google Play Store.

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