MHA Public Safety Division of Drug Enforcement

“We have a 1-800 phone line, we tell people they can call and be anonymous, but they don’t trust it like they do tip411”

tip411 interviewed Britnee White of Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation Drug Enforcement in North Dakota.

Q: How has the tip411 system aided your agency?
If it wasn’t for tip411, many of the tips we’ve received would not have come to us. People on the reservation not want to be a narc, but they do want to be able to get information to the right people in law enforcement. We have a 1-800 phone line, we tell people they can call and be anonymous, but they don’t trust it like they do tip411.We can communicate with tipsters via text and through custom branded apps made just for our community.

Q: Any advice for other agencies considering tip411?
I would strongly suggest other agencies look into getting this for their department, their reservation, whatever. From our standpoint it’s opened our eyes to the power of technology in community engagement. People are more likely to send in a text than walk in or call us with information. Because of that it’s made us more successful in being able to get one more piece of the puzzle that helps us finish a case.  I’m proud of our tip411 program and that they noticed us and the work we’re doing with it at MHA Nation.

Q: Tell us about your community and your agency (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
Our agency is fairly new and the first of its kind. We’re tribally funded, and there are 6 communities on the reservation of approximately 1,000 acres under our jurisdiction. We started MHA Drug Enforcement started in 2015, and have a mixture of patrol agents with K-9s that do interdiction on the reservation and our special agents that do case management. We have about 16,000 enrolled members on our reservation but have a lot of non-natives that live on the reservation as well. A total of 6 counties intersect with the reservation.

Q: How did you hear about tip411?
tip411 was purchased for us a few years ago through a grant from Dr. Monica Mayer, our North Segment Representative, and, since we were a fairly new agency focused specifically on drugs, it was decided our agency would be the best fit to utilize the program.

Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
As the office manager/IT person/support person, I am the main administrator of tip411 who handles tips that come in. One of my responsibilities is to transfer tips within the agency to the best agent to follow up on it. When tips come in they are received by the supervisors and directors so they can interact with them as well. If I know there’s a current case, something a tip is related to, I’ll assign it to the specific agent working on that case. If a tip comes it at 1am on a Saturday, I’m monitoring it. We actually had a tip that came in at 3am and when the tip came in I got a text alert that the tipster was sending information and pictures through tip411. This was real-time information that was coming in about drugs being transported through the reservation.I transferred it to one of our agents and they were able to go out and make a successful arrest on a warrant that was issued for the driver of the vehicle.

Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
With tip411, we’ve had tips come in that have contributed to several indictments. In one case we had 20 tips that came in about one person that contributed to their indictment as well.

Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in your community to make your residents aware of it?
I try to reinforce the anonymity of tip411 on all of our advertisements for it.We have an information screen that’s seen throughout the reservation and we put the tip411 information on there, we put flyers out to everyone through our email lists, ask people to post it in their community centers, we have it on our Facebook page, it’s on the MHA Nation website, we’ve made business cards, and we’ve been sharing this information at community meetings. We also go out and do educational presentations for schools, staff, our public safety services, and when we do that I ask people, “does everyone have a cell phone?” and then I tell them to pull it out and I walk them through downloading the app and how to use it. Once I do that, we always see a spike in the number of tips we receive.

Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your agency is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
Our community members are using it as a vehicle to be heard – it’s not always just drug tips – we’ve gotten tips about child protective situations, tips about people having warrants, etc. With the upgrade of being able to pass on information to another department I’ve started utilizing it to pass tips along to the appropriate agencies outside of MHA Nation to follow up on. They really appreciate it because they know the information they’re getting from us is good and actionable as we’ve always been a reliable partner to our neighboring agencies.

Q: What types of tips/situations have you seen tip411 be most useful for in your community?
When we first started, we were seeing issues related to meth, but the goal has been to try to eradicate any drug dealings that are being done on the reservation. What we’re finding now is a wide range of pill use, opioids, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth again. Recently its gotten much more serious – we’ve had 4 fatal overdoses in the last month related to fentanyl as well as 2 overdoses that were able to be brought back to consciousness.


tip411 Helps Hazard, KY Solve Cold Case, Fight Drug Crime, and Share City Information

tip411 interviewed Detective Cpt. Paul Campbell of the Hazard Police Department, who is in charge of the department’s use of their tip411 system in Hazard, Kentucky.

Q: Tell us about Hazard and your department.
Hazard PD has about 50 employees, sworn and civilian.

Our city fluctuates in population from about 3,500 to nearly 20,000 during daytime hours due to commuters. In the past few years we’ve seen a significant rise in felonies in our area as well as a rise in drug problems (meth, heroin, cocaine, pills, etc.), just like many other cities have seen.

Q: How is the tip411 system used in your city?
tip411 is a collaboration between the police department and City Hall, allowing us to send alerts with important city information while also having the ability to let community members submit anonymous tips about crime and other public safety issues.

We receive tips about many subjects, including thefts, prostitution, and suspicious persons, but the overwhelming amount have been drug related.

If I had to compare how many tips we received in the last 5 years before tip411 it would not compare to the amount of tips we’ve received in just the past 4 or 5 months with tip411.

Q: Why do you think that is?
Being able to have a place for people to go to and cry for help while feeling safe about it has been a big help. Now they can reach out anonymously without having to block their number, change their voice, etc.

Not every tip has been gold, but 25% have contained good, decent intel that we would not have received without having the service. We’ve benefited big time.

Q: Why tip411?
A: We initially looked at tip411 just because of its anonymous tip feature. At about the same time, City Hall approached me about finding a mass alerting system to inform residents about city issues.

tip411 took care of not only the police department’s needs, but City Hall as well, and helps us to work in collaboration with one another to share alerts about boil water advisories, road closures, utility disruptions, and more.

Q: Anything you would tell other agencies considering tip411?
A: What it comes down to is, “how much are you willing to pay to keep the public happy while helping them feel safe and informed?”

It’s well worth the money and it’s kinda silly not to invest in it. The response we’ve had was been nothing but positive; beyond what we expected and I really don’t think we could go back to the old way of taking tips.

All it takes is that one time, on that one cold case.

One of the tips that came in through tip411 was about a suspect we had been looking into in relation to a double homicide in 2013. He was a suspect in an unrelated robbery, and we put his information out via tip411. We received a tip that helped us locate him and bring him in for questioning. During an interrogation he confessed to his involvement in the 2013 homicide and we were able to solve that cold case.

The system paid for itself right then and there.