Law enforcement agencies around the state have begun implementing a new app to help residents find information about their department, view alerts, and submit anonymous tips from their smartphones.
The app is known as tip411 through Citizen Observer, LLC. It allows law enforcement to engage with the public by creating awareness through community alerts, expanding social media, and allowing the public to share anonymous tips and information with law enforcement. Officers are also able to reply to these tips in real-time in an anonymous two-way conversation.
According to Orrville Police Chief Matt Birkbeck, all the department had prior to tip411 was an answering machine. If a citizen gave a tip over the weekend or in the middle of the night, they would have to leave a message. However, the department’s implementation of tip411 means that whenever a call comes in, multiple members in the department get a text and/or an e-mail about it in real time.
“It’s great that it’s a simple thing to remember. The instructions are very simple and we have business cards and fliers we hand out to the community. It’s been pretty easy. We have tried different things in the past but this is just simple,” Birkbeck told The Ohio Star.
Tip411 states that the text tip system is 100 percent anonymous, as the technology removes all identifiers prior to law enforcement viewing the messages.
The app also provides residents with specific crime alerts relevant to specific neighborhoods. Additionally, law enforcement can use the app to alert the community about other situations such as floods and road closures.
“In general, drugs is the number one thing people want to pass on information about. Then neighbor complaints, suspicious persons, and suspicious crimes,” Birkbeck said.
Agencies subscribing to tip411 system receive a customized app that is free for area residents to download for both iPhones and Android. Where it is available, local police departments will post information about how to obtain the software.
“Any time you encourage someone to report something suspicious that they otherwise wouldn’t report, even if that something turns out to be innocent, is outstanding,” Birkbeck told The Star.
Those without a smartphone can share information with law enforcement by sending a tip through their local department’s website or by calling.
Please note: tip411 is NOT a substitute for calling 911. For emergencies or rapid response call 911.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]