tip411 interviewed Public Information Officer Allison Hudson of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana.
Q: How has the tip411 system aided your agency?
A: It’s been a great tool for residents to have another way to submit tips and our’s is used a lot. With tip411, if they want to reach us anonymously, they can. We’ve done several programs through tip411, like a few years ago when we were having a string of pharmacy break-ins, we met with them and signed them up on tip411 to share information. Another way is we’ve used tip411 in our school system for bullying.
Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A: We had a homicide in 2014 that was a 16 year old kid who went missing and we received a tip from someone who noticed some similarities with a known person. Long story short he provided information to help us solve the crime and he and others were arrested in conjunction with the homicide.
Q: Tell us about your community, agency, and how you heard about tip411?
A: We have about 120,000 people in the parish, with 350 employees at the Sheriff’s Office.We heard about tip411, did a free demo, and we signed up from there.
Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A: I monitor all of the tips and the 24/7 dispatch center monitors them outside of normal business hours. All of our lieutenants and captains have access to these tips as well. If we’re working a homicide, a detective will be assigned to checking those tips real-time. Every division head has access and are responsible for checking and responding to tips and they send me an email to let me know if a tip can be closed out or not. I keep a list of how many cases are solved based on tips that are received. We also have a School Security Division and the lieutenant checks those tips and will send it to the officers stationed in schools if tips pertain to their school.
Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in your community to make your residents aware of it?
A: Related to use in schools for bullying, we made it so every computer’s first screen when students login is about reporting a tip using tip411. It has the number and instructions on how to do it. We’ve also done billboards, advertising in the newspaper, digital ads, etc. for people to submit a tip. We also use and have success with CrimeStoppers and we have a card we give out to residents at community police events, during violent crimes, or anything that we might be looking for related to crime in neighborhoods, and one side has the tip411 information and the other side has CrimeStoppers. It definitely has worked. We also share information on our social media channels and in every press release I send out about a crime, I put information about how to submit tips through tip411.
Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your agency is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
A: We get two types of tips – narcotics tips and bullying tips. Narcotics tips are pretty steady, but when I put out warrant alerts in the newspaper, we see a jump. I see about a 98% rate for tips when I put out information about Narcotics warrants. Bullying tips pickup at the beginning of school, over breaks, and at the end of the year.
Q: Can you tell me more about your success with tip411 in schools?
A: We’ve had several tips where students share information about threats and our crisis response team goes to the schools and arrests are made. We get screenshots of Snapchats, Instagram messages/posts, things we would never find without tip411. School administrators and staff see it as useful and teachers have used tip411 to share information as well. We talk to the student body about how to use it at assemblies, what it’s used for, not to use it incorrectly and what the consequences are. We have cards specifically made for students to explain to them, in a simple way, how to use tip411.
Q: Any advice for other agencies considering tip411?
A: I think it’s a good tool to use. We found that people really do just want to submit information and remain anonymous. If you use it correctly – if you go through the webinars, and the trainings, and actually get officers and businesses involved, get residents signed up – it will work for your agency and community.