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.
Chief Anthony Holloway of the St. Petersburg, Florida Police Department is someone who has been a great partner with tip411, using the system as the head of three different departments.
Read below the letter below that Chief Holloway shared with his colleagues in the law enforcement community about his thoughts on the need for tip411 and how it is essential to modern policing:
As law enforcement leaders, we continue to look for ways to reach out, share information, and encourage our citizens to help us with our efforts to reduce crime and create safer communities.
I believe the tip411 system is essential to modern policing. I’ve used this system during my time as chief in Somerville, Massachusetts, Clearwater, Florida, and now in St. Petersburg, and I truly believe this tool empowers officers and the community to engage and communicate in ways that were not possible before.
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to Terry Halsch, President of tip411. I invite you to connect with him to learn more about how their anonymous text a tip service, community alerts sent directly to residents via email and text message, social media integration, and new, innovative, tip411 Mobile app for iPhone and Android can be deployed by your department.
Visit tip411.com to learn more about the solutions they offer and read about how departments large and small across the United States are utilizing the system to gather intelligence from residents, close cases, and reduce crime.
Chief of Police
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.
The borough police department has launched an anonymous texting line for people to report crimes, authorities announced Wednesday.
People will now be able to text 847411 (tip411) and send anonymous tips about crime or suspicious activity, authorities said.
More than 1,200 communities in the United States use tip411, which allows police officers to receive real-time information, Ramsey police said.
“We believe the public is our greatest law enforcement resource,” Chief Brian Gurney said. “Tip411 allows a safe and secure way for community members to share important information with police without the fear of retribution.”
The service also “removes all identifying information before police see it and there is no way to identify the sender,” authorities said.
Gurney said that the service could also be used for people to report possible overdoses.
“Due to the opiate overdose epidemic, we are hoping that the Tip411 system will offer an alternative for people who may know of others that may need help with their opioid addiction,” he said. “We are also offering an alternative for young people, who do not want to formally contact police with regard to their friends that may be experiencing drug addiction and other issues.”
Gurney said anyone with questions can get more information by calling 201-327-2400.
The following is a community alert the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office sent to their residents using tip411 to share crime prevention tips for Spring:
“Just some friendly reminders since we just hopped into Spring. The weather is beautiful outside and there will be some spring cleaning going on inside homes as well as yard work outside in preparation for the upcoming warmer months.
- Ensure doors and windows are locked at your home. This includes even if you are only leaving for a short period of time.
- Ensure all of your gardening tools are secured in your garage or storage shed with adequate locking mechanisms. Don’t leave your garage open when you are working outside in the backyard out of sight of your garage. Criminals look for opportunities such as open garages.
- Do not leave your garage door open to vent the heat out, even if it is just a few inches. Criminals can and will slide underneath. They may even use a child to slide underneath and open the door for them.
- Always secure bicycles out of sight and in a secure location.
- Ensure that you have a secure door between you and possible solicitors. Always keep your screen door locked and if you do answer the door, then you have a secondary barrier between. Criminals take opportunities with unsecured screen doors and make their way inside.”
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:
You can view their alert online here.
tip411 can be a powerful took to help police and city governments combat crime, particularly homicides.
Allowing residents to share information anonymously can help police receive tips they otherwise may not have, and close more cases.
Interested in learning how tip411 can help in your community? Click here for a free demo.