Chief John Swenson

Lino Lakes Police Now Using tip411 to Communicate with Residents

Tony Stano wanted for some time to bring the product he’s helped sell to communities around the country to the city where he lives.

“It’s kind of a passion project for me,” said Stano, who lives in Lino Lakes and is sales director for Tip411, a Twin Cities-based company that has operated a law enforcement communication platform for nearly 20 years.

“I know how important it is to every community we work with because it’s a complete community engagement tool that works to provide a safe space for residents to get involved in government where they might not otherwise feel inclined to say anything about what’s happening in their neighborhoods,” Stano said.

Lino Lakes Public Safety Department is the latest agency to sign on, and the system is now live.

“This is a platform for us to have really on-going engagement with our community,” said Public Safety Director John Swenson. “(Residents) can also provide information to us anonymously through text messaging, through the app, or through the website.”

It works seamlessly with the department’s existing social media platforms, including Facebook, which has continued to prove popular with people who live and work in Lino Lakes.

Tip411 also divides the city into four zones to streamline communication and make each zone specific to where users are most interested in knowing what’s going on.

“Simply by clicking a couple of boxes, we’re able to send that information across all of our social media platforms at one time, which is a real advantage for us,” said Swenson. “Public safety really is a partnership. We cannot possibly keep track of everything that’s going on in our community.”

“It doesn’t matter the size of the agency or community,” said Stano. “If you can send a text, download an app, or manage the internet in any capacity, you can utilize Tip411 to participate in neighborhood safety.”

The Future of Community Engagement with tip411

For Hamden Police, it is another step in helping to bridge the gap between police officers and the communities they protect. A new smartphone app called tip411 lets smartphone users submit crime tips anonymously. Click here to see the video of Chief Wydra talking about the value of tip411. Learn more…


“Our mission is the preservation of public peace and order, the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, and the protection of persons and property,” said Stratford, CT Police Chief Joseph McNeil. “To achieve this goal, the department strives to gain and retain the confidence and respect of the public in such a way as to insure the welfare and betterment of the citizens of Stratford, and we believe our new app will help us better connect and engage with our residents.” Full Story Here…


COMING SOON!: tip411 Select will allow your agency to connect with specific groups within your community like never before by allowing them to communicate in their preferred language. This cutting edge app, which can be customized for your agency, will make interacting with your residents easier, more efficient, and instantaneous. Learn more about all of tip411’s subscription options…

tip411 police truck

“Everyone is texting; no one wants to talk on the phone anymore.”

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.

Image_CheektowagaTip411_billboard

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.

Delhi Township

Interview with Delhi Township: Part III

tip411 interviewed Chief Jim Howarth of the Delhi Township Police Department in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is the third and final part of our conversation.

PART III

Q: What have you done to promote your tip411 system to make sure residents know about it and use it?
A:
We make sure our tip411 information is always posted on all of our social media sites, with links to sign up for alerts and submit tips.

In the beginning, we had business cards made up with tip411 information and officers would hand those out. Officers had them in their car and when they had an interaction with a resident, they’d hand them a card and introduce them to the tip411 program, tell them its free to use to send tips and to sign up for alerts. We still have cards but it was imperative in the beginning.

We really saw a jump with residents buying in to our tip411 efforts when local media starting putting the information on the news. That was as easy as sending out a press release and what’s nice now is they all buy-in to signing up for tip411 and, if they don’t, they know it’s pushed out through Facebook so local reporters are getting our alerts in real-time. They’ll call me right away saying they want to do a story, or sometimes now they won’t even contact me and I’ll see the alert on the news with the surveillance photos we put out. It’s great and helps us reach more residents.

Q: Any advice for other departments considering tip411?
A:
Don’t hesitate. My biggest regret is waiting two years before I pulled the trigger to purchase tip411. I felt comfortable coming on board and the rest has been icing on the cake. Now I realize it is what I thought it was.

Any time it can help another agency and talk to them about tip411, I do. It’s not like I’m trying to sell it to them, but when I find a good product for a reasonable amount that helps me do my job better, I like to share that.

My advice is for other departments just to take a look at tip411 because once they do, the product sells itself.

Chief Howarth Interview – Part I

Chief Howarth Interview – Part II

Delhi Township

Interview with Delhi Township: Part II

tip411 interviewed Chief Jim Howarth of the Delhi Township Police Department in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is part two of our three-part conversation.

PART II

Q: How has the tip411 system aided your department?
A:
tip411 has been well received by both my officers and our residents. It’s one of the best things that have happened to us – We can’t be everywhere all the time, but we have 30,000 residents that have eyes that can help us find things. It could be that 1 tip or call that solves a string of burglaries, and we need our residents help as much as they need ours.

When I took over as Police Chief in 2008, others before me didn’t think they needed to share information with the public. I think people need to know things do happen in Delhi, when they happen, and not wait a week to see it in the paper. We need to inform the public and push information out to have them help us solve crimes as they are happening, and we are doing that now thanks to tip411.

Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A:
When we put out surveillance pictures to try to identify who suspects are – whether it be for a theft, assault, armed robbery – there’s only 1 case I can remember where we’ve NEVER received any tips. All of the other hundreds of cases we’ve asked the public for help on we’ve received tips and were able to identify the suspect.

Literally within 5 minutes we’re getting tips with information. It’s tremendous as far as being able to recover property and hold criminals accountable.

One case I can remember was when we put out information after an elderly gentleman left his card in an ATM. We saw that the person that came to the ATM after him grabbed the card and then we traced that it was used at a nearby supermarket shortly thereafter. We put the suspect’s picture out around 7pm and 15 seconds later the clerk in my office asked me if I sent an alert. I told her I just hit send and she told me we had already received a tip from someone telling us they saw the alert, looked at the image, and realized it was a former coworker of theirs.

I don’t put out tons of stuff because I don’t want people to get tired of it, but I use it when we need to and it’s always been a great help. I also like to do follow up posts to let people know we were able to identify the suspect and solve a crime thanks to their help.

The only negative thing I’ve heard is…if we were to get rid of tip411, a lot of residents would be upset. Luckily, if we ever lost funding, I’m confident I could go to outside sourcing like business associations in our community because they love it and I’m sure they’d help us fund it.

Q: Your department also partners with Crime Stoppers. Can you talk about how you use Crime Stoppers and how tip411 can augment it?
A: They’re very similar in nature. Crime Stoppers give rewards out and for the most part tips that come through tip411 we don’t give out rewards. Sometimes while communicating back and forth through tip411 we realize the tipster may have good information but aren’t giving it up easy, so continue to get information we will say, “hey, if this pans out and we make an arrest, we will reach out to Crime Stoppers and get a reward for you.”

Most tips we get are coming in anonymously through tip411. I say anonymously but many people are comfortable putting their name and number in the message they send to us as well. More come through tip411 than via phone, but it’s a good mix.

Some people, I understand, are hesitant to contact police because they think there may be retribution for sharing information with us, but we have a community that wants to help and they do – dramatically. With tip411 there’s much less “us vs. them.” Residents now feel like they’re a part of the department.

Chief Howarth Interview – Part I

Chief Howarth Interview – Part III

DTPD Tip app

Get a Custom Agency Smartphone App!

Step up to a tip411 Pro subscription to get access to all of the great features of tip411 Bundle, plus the new tip411 Mobile app. This innovate app allows you to create a customized, branded app for Android/iPhone that allows residents to send anonymous tips, access agency alerts, social media channels, important information, and more to help fight crime. Contact us for a quick demo.

“We now have tip411 Pro and our own smartphone app that allows us to not only receive tips, but push out information specific to particular crimes, allows us to share crime mapping information, links to important agency information, as well as our social media accounts.” – Major David Dalton, Clearwater, Florida Police

Promote tip411

Promote, Promote, Promote!

The most successful agencies are those who hold press conferences to launch their system, regularly send alerts, hang posters around their community, distribute business cards with their tip411 information on it, and more. Need help? Reach out to our Public Relations Director for tips

“We try to feature it prominently on our website and we push it out as I said through Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. In every community alert that we send, we include our tip411 information. We put it on flyers, on crime alerts – just about anything we send to the public.” – Major David Dalton, Clearwater, Florida Police

Atlantic City Cruiser

Atlantic City Uses Alerts to Share Event Info & Safety Tips

tip411 Bundle and Pro customers can send community alerts to residents who subscribe to receive information via email and/or text message.

The Atlantic City, NJ Police Department takes advantage of their alerting capability to send updates about crimes in their community and solicit tips, but they know it can also be useful to share event information and safety reminders.  Take this alert about the city’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade as an example:

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 6.24.30 PM

You can view their alert online here.

Police Social Media

Drawbacks to Social Media Data Mining for Police

Many agencies have begun using, or are considering purchasing, social media monitoring tools to mine Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms for crime-related information.

Recently, however, Twitter announced that it was pulling data access for police surveillance tools, and other companies are expected to follow suit.

Our products, specifically the tip411 two way anonymous tip chat solution, can provide a way to gather direct intelligence from citizens (without companies like Twitter and Facebook) determining what data is available to you.

Social media monitoring tools are an excellent resource for investigations and intelligence gathering, but may be increasingly limited over time.

We recently heard from a large department in California who reached out and thanked us for letting them know about this as they were very close to purchasing one of these expensive monitoring tools because they thought they needed it.

We would appreciate the opportunity to share how introducing tip411 into your community can help create direct engagement, without the use of such expensive and limited tools.

There are currently law enforcement agencies in more than 40 states and 1,4000 communities using tip411, and we hope you’ll contact us to request more information or to schedule a brief demo.