A suburban drug task force is the latest Minnesota law enforcement agency to use texting and mobile apps to attract would-be tipsters.
Last week, the Southwest Metro Drug Task Force activated its “SWMTip” app, powered by St. Paul-based technology company tip411, for residents to submit anonymous tips and photos from their smartphones.
Phil Nawrocki, a Scott County Sheriff’s Office commander, said the first tip arrived within a day of launching the app. The task force joined more than 30 other Minnesota agencies using tip411 after noting how often it gathered information from mobile photos or text messages, Nawrocki said.
“Rather than have the individual go back home, sit down and try to find our e-mail address and contact info, they have a cellphone in their hand that can directly send confidential information to us,” Nawrocki said.
The Southwest Metro Drug Task Force covers Scott, Carver and McLeod counties as well as the cities of Excelsior, Greenwood, Shorewood and Tonka Bay.
Tip411’s apps keep tipsters anonymous by assigning them a six-character alias to be used when communicating with authorities, said tip411 President Terry Halsch. The company also has a “text-a-tip” system that is used by roughly 1,400 agencies around the country, he said.