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.
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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.