Police now accepting anonymous text tips from the publicOne of the Hastings Police Department’s priorities for 2012 has already come to fruition. The department launched a new service last week that allows citizens to send anonymous tips to police via cell phone text message.
One of the Hastings Police Department’s priorities for 2012 has already come to fruition. The department launched a new service last week that allows citizens to send anonymous tips to police via cell phone text message.
Text messages are sent to tip411, an internet based tool that also allows a two-way anonymous chat between tipsters and police. Anyone with a cell phone can text the word “Hastings” followed by a space and the tip information to 847411 (tip411). An example of a text tip would be “Hastings There is a lot of people in and out of 123 Hastings Street at all hours. I suspect drug dealing. Please check it out.”
The tip system is also being deployed in Hastings schools. Students with any school safety concerns can send their anonymous tip to the same number, leading the tip with the word “Raiders” instead of “Hastings.” School tips will be received by the school resource officer, who will work with school administrators to investigate the tip information. An example of a school tip would be “Raiders 7th grader Johnny Doe is being bullied by a small group of other kids. They took his lunch money and are always threatening him. He is afraid to report it.”
“School safety is a top priority and directly correlates to student success and learning,” Hastings Public School Superintendent Tim Collins said. “While Hastings is a very safe community with safe and engaged schools, we must do all we can to provide reporting options for students with safety concerns.”
Tip411 is powered by CitizenObserver, a St. Paul company. CitizenObserver’s technology removes all identifying information from messages before police see them, so there is no way for police to identify the sender. Also, none of the information exchanged is logged, so there is no way to track the originator of a text tip.
Once a tip is sent, the sender will receive a message from CitizenObserver indicating the message has been forwarded to the Hastings Police Department or school resource officer. The police or school resource officer can respond to the sender to ask for additional information. If the sender doesn’t want any further contact, the sender only needs to push the “stop” or “end” button on his or her phone and the contact is broken.
“In this digital age, the new capability will help citizens, especially young and tech savvy people play a more active role in keeping our neighborhoods and schools safe,” Chief of Police Paul Schnell said.
The system will be monitored regularly, but not continuously. Anyone with emergency or urgent information should call 9-1-1.