Like many of you, the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida has left us wondering what more we can do to help protect our kids in school.
While there’s no easy solution, we believe tip411 can help students to more effectively share information anonymously with administrators and/or law enforcement.
tip411 School Edition enables students to send anonymous tips to Administrators, School Resource Officers (SROs), and other authorized personnel who can respond to the tips in real time from any internet connected device, creating a two way anonymous chat.
It provides a “safe space” for students to communicate with authority figures through two-way anonymous communications that facilitate dialogue, leading to more accurate information.
“Our SRO’s have great relationships with many students, but tip411 allows our SRO’s to build relationships with students they have not yet been able to reach. tip411 also promotes kids being responsible for the safety of their schools and having them take that kind of ownership is priceless.” – McKinney Independent School District’s Director of Safety, Greg Hill
Many communities across the US have begun to use tip411 to improve school safety, and examples of how they’ve use it can be found here:
…An important part of responding to bullying is to know when it is happening. Teachers and administrators are trained in the ‘4 A Response’, through PBIS, how to Affirm a student giving a report, Ask the right questions, Assess the report or threat, and Act on the information appropriately.
Students are provided ways to report bullying, including telling a trusted adult, using a paper method in the front office, or by using the Tip411 text or email app. While all students are encouraged to talk candidly with counselors, teachers, administrators, coaches or other adults they trust, many opt for more anonymous methods like Tip411.
The app is offered in partnership with Napa and American Canyon police departments and the Napa County Sheriff, and allows students to anonymously report bullying, suicide threats, crimes or other situations to school administrators and law enforcement, who can move quickly to investigate any unsafe incidents.
And, of course, we encourage parents to be vigilant for signs of bullying or bullying behavior, and to report concerns to a teacher and principal…
tip411 interviewed Assistant Chief Jim Speyer of the Cheektowaga, New York Police Department. Here’s what he had to say about using tip411 in their community:
Q: Tell us about your community and the Cheektowaga Police Department (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A: We are a first ring suburb of the City of Buffalo with a major shopping mall that serves Western NY, Southern Ontario, Canada, and Northern Pennsylvania. It’s the hub of a huge retail area we have and brings in lots of traffic and visitors to our area. The Buffalo-Niagara Airport is located in our jurisdiction as well
There are about 87,000 people in the town of Cheektowaga, and the demographics are changing from predominantly Polish and German neighborhoods to African American neighborhoods in the area that borders the City of Buffalo.
Our department has 129 sworn officers and we’re big on community policing and getting out and knowing the public. Our goal is always to try to open doors between us and the community we serve.
Q: How did you hear about tip411?
A: Our chief was attending an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference several years ago and heard about it there.
After that, he brought it to Cheektowaga in 2012 and we’ve been using it for the last 5 years.
Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A: When we first implemented tip411 we had all the tips going to supervisors; sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. When they received a tip, each of them would designate if it needed to be forwarded to someone in particular for follow up.
We tried to stress to the community in the beginning that it was a tip line, not something that should be used for reporting in-progress crimes as it was not monitored 24/7.
However, the way society is today, it’s all about texting and we receive lots of calls for service through tip411 despite or efforts to communicate to people they should be calling 911.
Once we realized this was how people wanted to communicate, we set it up so that tips also go to our dispatch center. Supervisors still receive tips, but dispatches are also alerted to a tip so if it’s something that needs an immediate response they can dispatch units immediately.
Q: How has the tip411 system aided your department?
A: tip411 aided our department by helping us receive some valid information and tips on drugs. Lots of tips we receive are narcotics-related or about suspicious activity that gets forwarded to our narcotics officers who can initiate an investigation on an address.
People have always been able to call in to our department and say that want to be anonymous and we’ll adhere to that, but people don’t trust that it’s truly anonymous if they can. So the value of tip411 is that people trust this system to truly keep them anonymous and they use it for that.
There are times we go back and forth via text message with the tipster to get more information and sometimes they end up volunteering their identity to help us get in touch with them to get even more actionable intel on a case.
Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A: Just a few months ago, we received a tip that 2 people were in a car smoking crack. Our officers would never have known about it, but a tip came in to our dispatchers and they dispatched units. Officers found crack cocaine and heroin and arrested both individuals in the car.
This is typical of our system. We get tips on suspicious people, suspicious cars, etc. The reality, we as police believe something like this should be called in, but if people aren’t comfortable, then they use tip411 and its better than us not getting this information at all.
Q: What have you done to promote your tip411 system to make sure residents know about it and use it?
A: tip411 is promoted on our website and Facebook page. On Facebook we often post about individuals with outstanding warrants and ask people to share information with us via tip411.
When we first launched tip411, we rented billboards in the area and had a big display, which I think was great for getting in front of people and introducing the system. We also had our tip411 information stenciled on our police cruisers.
5 years later, we still hand out flyers with our tip information at community events and when I send out press releases to the media about certain incidents, I always include our tip411 information in there to ask residents to submit tips and help us fight crime.
Q: Any advice for other departments considering tip411?
A: I think it’s obvious that things change and even though it was not meant to be something for people to use to report crimes or incidents in progress, I feel it’s a necessity to have.
Around here, most departments have some form of an anonymous tip line, and to have this text option from tip411 is great. Everyone is texting; no one wants to talk on the phone anymore.
It’s a cultural thing. If people feel more comfortable texting – just like the case I mentioned where people were reported smoking crack – if people feel more comfortable texting than calling then that’s fine because we still got the information and got drugs off our streets.
Smartphone apps have uses ranging from checking the weather to watching movies to reading about the latest breaking news, and everything in between. Now Crow Wing County residents can download an app that lets them send crime tips to the sheriff’s department and communicate with local law enforcement from anywhere while remaining anonymous.
Tip411 is a program that has been gaining popularity in the lakes area over the last eight months. After downloading the CWCS Mobile app on an iPhone or Android device, users can simply submit anonymous tips relating to any criminal or suspicious activity directly to the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office.
And that’s not all.
“The cool thing with this feature is people can still remain anonymous if they wish, but we’re allowed to communicate back with them. So that’s where we can add the additional questions,” said Capt. Scott Goddard, of the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office.
The app allows the investigator receiving the tips to respond to the tipster and ask follow-up questions.
“They’ll text us in something very vague, like, ‘Vehicles coming or going late at night from a residence,'” Goddard said. “And then our follow-up questions might be, ‘Well, can you give us descriptions of the vehicle?’ or ‘What times are the vehicles coming and going?'”
Two people were arrested on multiple drug charges Wednesday night after police received an anonymous tip through the department’s tip411 texting service.
The anonymous text was sent to the department around 7 p.m. saying that a car was parked on Oakwood Drive in the town’s South Line district and several people were smoking drugs.
“Officers Chris Wierzbowski and Mike Menth responded and found two people in the car and then discovered a baggie with crack cocaine at the feet of the occupants. Further investigation led to the discovery of multiple envelopes of heroin, a crack pipe, and several hypodermic needles,” said James Speyer, Assistant Chief of Police.
Police arrested and charged Jessica Seiler, 22 of Tristan Lane, Williamsville and Dillon Butchart, 25 of Pleasant Ave, Depew with three counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Hypodermic Instrument.