tip411 interviewed Public Information Officer Alexandra Ovington of the Arlington Heights, Illinois Police Department.
Q: How has the tip411 system aided your agency?
A: tip411 has aided our agency by allowing citizens’ voices to be heard anonymously. As police officers, we routinely hear from citizens that they are afraid to call 911. Many citizens believe they can be charged with filing a false police report if what they reported was incorrect or inaccurate. While this line of thinking is a misconception, it still creates an issue of suspicious or criminal activity being underreported in our community. tip411 creates a platform for these citizens to report incidents to police without the fear of misreporting. This allows our agency to be aware of crime or suspicious activity that would otherwise not be reported.
Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A: Our last arrest credited to tip411 is a case involving a stolen vehicle. In that case, a food delivery driver responded to a local hotel for a delivery, and while the driver was inside the hotel making the delivery, a female suspect stole his vehicle, which was left running in the parking lot. A tip was received via tip411 identifying the female offender, and that identification led to an arrest. The male that provided the tip received a cash reward courtesy of Arlington Heights Crime Stoppers.
Q: Tell us about your community and your agency (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A: The Village of Arlington Heights is located in Cook County, Illinois. The Village is approximately 25 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. The population of Arlington Heights is estimated at 75,249. Arlington Heights Police Department has 107 Sworn Police Officers. Arlington Heights is best known for the Arlington Park Race Track, home of the Arlington Million; a Breeders Cup qualifying event.
Q: How did you hear about tip411?
A: We heard about tip411 via the internet. We officially signed up in 2008 and have been using it ever since.
Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A: As the Public Information Officer (PIO), I am authorized to post on all social media platforms. Myself and my partner, the Problem Oriented Policing Coordinator (POP), facilitate the majority of posts through tip411. The PIO and POP post media releases, crime alerts, crime maps, event alerts, citizen/community alerts, and updates. In the event of a critical incident or media release for immediate distribution when neither the PIO or POP are available, supervisors are authorized to post on social media platforms through tip411. Any tips that are received are responded to by the PIO and POP and are subsequently assigned to the appropriate bureau.
Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in your community to make your residents aware of it?
A: It is a benefit for the Police Department to reach as many citizens as possible via tip411, as the more eyes and ears we have in the community, the safer our community becomes. In addition to cross-posting all posts made through tip411 to Facebook and Twitter, we also provide citizens with how-to instructions for signing up for and using tip411. We offer these instructions in handouts that we distribute at all community events including Police Department Open Houses and safety presentations. We also utilize tip411 in partnership with Arlington Heights Crime Stoppers whom, through their contributions, offer up to $1,000 for tips that successfully lead to arrests.
Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your agency is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
A: While the frequency of tips we receive vary from month to month, we do not quantify our success with tip411 based on an increase in the cases we are solving because of tips we receive. We quantify our success with tip411 based solely on the fact that even one case solved because of a tip received via tip411 is a benefit since that case would not have been solved without it.
Q: Any advice for other agencies considering tip411?
A: Do not be afraid to provide case information to your community via tip411. Any information you can disseminate to the public for specific cases will only help to increase the amount of tips you receive in return. A strong Social Media presence leads to a strong Social Media following. Increase your eyes and ears and you will be surprised at your community’s willingness to help the police solve cases.