Syracuse Police

New Syracuse Police Phone App Informs About Nearby Crimes, Accepts Anonymous Tips

Can your smart phone make you safer in the City of Syracuse?  Mayor Ben Walsh joined members of the Syracuse Police Department to roll out new technology to help reduce crime and improve community relations. You might have a phone app to find your way around or get a ride, maybe check the weather or play a game. Deputy Chief Joe Cecile wants you to get another app for community benefit.

“Nothing makes it safer, nothing assists with quality of life (more) than collaboration and communication between the residents who live there and the police department.  And that’s what this TIP 411 is going to allow us to do.  We’re going to roll out an app that allows us to communicate and dialogue with the residents throughout the city with everything from crime down to public relations-type events.”

People can download the app on I-Phone or Android smart phones.  Mayor Walsh says it can add some eyes and ears to the police on patrol.

“You may notice a suspicious vehicle in your neighborhood; you may have a vacant house in your neighborhood and you notice some suspicious activity around there, and knowing that I can just pull out my phone.  I can submit a tip to the police department.  The functionality to include a photo is really useful.  So having the app on your phone makes it convenient.”

Tips sent through the app are anonymous.  Authorities say that makes it more useful than texting, where people fear consequences of giving police information.  Police can also use the app to send messages to people about crimes that are going on in their neighborhoods.

Read the full story at WAER.org

Onondaga County

Interview: Onondaga County, NY Sheriff’s Office

tip411 interviewed Captain Dan Brogan of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department in Onondaga County, New York.

Q: Tell us about Onondaga County and your department (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A:
Onondaga County is located in Central New York and includes the city of Syracuse. The county is 827 square miles, has a population of over 750,000 residents, and our department has just over 220 sworn members.

Q: How is tip411 administered in the Sheriff’s department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A:
Our previous tip lines ran through the Public Information Office. When we set up tip411, we made the decision to have several administrators on the system who are responsible for being a clearinghouse for tips that are received. When they come in to myself, the Public Information Office, our Fusion Center, etc., we distribute the tips according to topic and assign them to individuals to respond and have tip conversations directly with the tipster.

Q: How is the tip411 system used in your community?
A:
The majority of tips we receive, without question, are for drug activity. Most people want to report drug activity because no one wants a drug house next door to them, but they don’t have great success by calling 911 with this information because, usually, there’s very little patrol can do when they respond.

Because people can share this information electronically through tip411 and they know it’s anonymous, they have been providing more specific information than they leave on our tip line where they have to leave a voice message.

When email came out years ago we saw a huge uptick in the amount of tips that came in that way, but once people realized that we could trace their IP address to find out where the tip came from and that it was not truly anonymous, they became much more skeptical of contacting us that way.

With tip411, there’s not that traceability which is great for the tipster, yet we are able to create an ongoing anonymous conversation and ask questions to get that one more piece of information that makes a tip actionable and helps us affect arrest.

Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in Onondaga County?
A:
We’ve had success because we’ve done promotion of the system. We have the information on our website and almost every single night on the news there’s something from the Sheriff’s department about a crime and how we’re trying to identify a suspect and tip411 is available to share information safely and anonymously.

It’s also been helpful to us that the Syracuse Police Department and Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office are both using and promoting tip411 as well because it has added to a wider knowledge about the system with residents in our county.

Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A:
What’s notable is the every day success we’re having with the system that we hadn’t seen before. We’re getting more tips, closing more cases, and being able to continue anonymous tip conversations with reporting party rather than just getting a voicemail with a piece of information that isn’t enough to help us build a case off of.

We’ve had neighbors and community groups in meetings tell us they’re glad we’ve taken care of this problem or that drug location, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it with tip411.

Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your department is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
A:
We’ve absolutely seen an increase. Previously we got about one to two tips per week on our traditional phone tip line and through other avenues. We’re still seeing that, but in addition we’re now receiving about a tip per day through tip411.

Since launching our tip411 system in December of 2015, we’ve received approximately 225 tips. That’s 225 more tips than we would’ve gotten without tip411.

Of those 225 tips, we’ve opened 70 cases and closed nearly 80% of those through arrests.

I spent 14 years as Supervisor of the Narcotics Unit, and during that time we closed between 55% and 60% of cases based on tips that came in. The ones we didn’t make arrests on were because we couldn’t verify because there wasn’t enough information. With tip411, now we can go back and ask that one or two extra questions to make it more successful. For example, a tip about a blue car isn’t that helpful, but if we can follow up and get the tipster to share the license plate for the blue car, that really helps quite a bit and that’s why we’ve seen our arrest rate grow significantly with tip411.

Q: So, why tip411?
A: We got tip411 in December 2015 through a partnership with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and it’s been very successful for us. As I’ve said, it’s not just a substitute for other ways we have for people to submit tips, it’s an additional, anonymous avenue for people to reach us with important information that’s helping us get more information and close more cases.

Q: Anything you would tell other agencies considering tip411?
A: It’s a success. It’s had a proven track record of success with us for anonymous tips for narcotics because it allows you to communicate anonymously with the tipster and lets a lot more people come forward with more information.

People want to come forward, but they’re petrified. tip411 has helped remove that fear and has been a really a fantastic addition to our arsenal.

What Made for a Successful Launch in Onondaga County, NY?

To announce tip411’s arrival at 20 agencies in the Syracuse area, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick did three important things:

  1. Held a press conference and invited chiefs from local departments to attend to show their support for the system and promote its use to local media outlets.
  2. Produced posters and flyers showing agency-specific tip411 keywords that participating agencies could hand out, give to business, hang in city buildings, and use on their social media sites and webpages.
  3. Participated in ongoing promotion – Aside from the initial press conference, the DA and Syracuse Police Chief gave one-on-one interviews to media outlets in the days following the launch to assure continued coverage of the new system in order to reach more members of the public.

See More:

Video – District Attorney Fitzpatrick discusses tip411 outreach
Video -Onondaga County Lauches tip411

 

Law Enforcement Agencies Launch Anonymous Web Tip Program

Getting witnesses to come forward can be as challenging as actually solving a crime.

“If the police receive full cooperation from the general public, that would discourage the bad guys from committing these acts within certain neighborhoods because they know they’re not going to be able to get away with it,” said Frank Fowler, Syracuse Police Chief.

Wednesday, District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said there are a number of incidents where people should come forward including a deadly shooting in Thornden Park July 4th.

“They’re probably a 100 to 150 witnesses that saw this shooting and as of yet that crime remains unsolved. That’s a community disgrace,” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is hoping a new program will help. Tip 411 allows tips to be sent to any of the police agencies in the county anonymously using their individual tip code. The transmission happens almost instantly and he demonstrated how.

“If you’re afraid of retaliation, you don’t want to leave your name on a voice recording, you don’t want to use your phone on a tip line reach out to Tip 411,” said Fitzpatrick.

Read full story from TWC News