Interview with Delhi Township: Part II

tip411 interviewed Chief Jim Howarth of the Delhi Township Police Department in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is part two of our three-part conversation.

PART II

Q: How has the tip411 system aided your department?
A:
tip411 has been well received by both my officers and our residents. It’s one of the best things that have happened to us – We can’t be everywhere all the time, but we have 30,000 residents that have eyes that can help us find things. It could be that 1 tip or call that solves a string of burglaries, and we need our residents help as much as they need ours.

When I took over as Police Chief in 2008, others before me didn’t think they needed to share information with the public. I think people need to know things do happen in Delhi, when they happen, and not wait a week to see it in the paper. We need to inform the public and push information out to have them help us solve crimes as they are happening, and we are doing that now thanks to tip411.

Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A:
When we put out surveillance pictures to try to identify who suspects are – whether it be for a theft, assault, armed robbery – there’s only 1 case I can remember where we’ve NEVER received any tips. All of the other hundreds of cases we’ve asked the public for help on we’ve received tips and were able to identify the suspect.

Literally within 5 minutes we’re getting tips with information. It’s tremendous as far as being able to recover property and hold criminals accountable.

One case I can remember was when we put out information after an elderly gentleman left his card in an ATM. We saw that the person that came to the ATM after him grabbed the card and then we traced that it was used at a nearby supermarket shortly thereafter. We put the suspect’s picture out around 7pm and 15 seconds later the clerk in my office asked me if I sent an alert. I told her I just hit send and she told me we had already received a tip from someone telling us they saw the alert, looked at the image, and realized it was a former coworker of theirs.

I don’t put out tons of stuff because I don’t want people to get tired of it, but I use it when we need to and it’s always been a great help. I also like to do follow up posts to let people know we were able to identify the suspect and solve a crime thanks to their help.

The only negative thing I’ve heard is…if we were to get rid of tip411, a lot of residents would be upset. Luckily, if we ever lost funding, I’m confident I could go to outside sourcing like business associations in our community because they love it and I’m sure they’d help us fund it.

Q: Your department also partners with Crime Stoppers. Can you talk about how you use Crime Stoppers and how tip411 can augment it?
A: They’re very similar in nature. Crime Stoppers give rewards out and for the most part tips that come through tip411 we don’t give out rewards. Sometimes while communicating back and forth through tip411 we realize the tipster may have good information but aren’t giving it up easy, so continue to get information we will say, “hey, if this pans out and we make an arrest, we will reach out to Crime Stoppers and get a reward for you.”

Most tips we get are coming in anonymously through tip411. I say anonymously but many people are comfortable putting their name and number in the message they send to us as well. More come through tip411 than via phone, but it’s a good mix.

Some people, I understand, are hesitant to contact police because they think there may be retribution for sharing information with us, but we have a community that wants to help and they do – dramatically. With tip411 there’s much less “us vs. them.” Residents now feel like they’re a part of the department.

 

Check back next week for the third and final part of our conversation with Chief Howarth. Missed Part I? Click here to read it.

Allentown police hope new app will help cut down on crime

The Allentown Police Department is leaning on technology to help them catch criminals.

On Wednesday, city leaders unveiled a new app that’s a first in our area.

The Allentown Police Department hopes the new app will help cut down on crime and keep people safe. The app pushes out alerts about what’s happening and even lets you send anonymous tips right on your phone.

“We can send alerts to the entire city. Our captains can send out alerts to their areas,” said Allentown Police Department’s Assistant Chief Gail Struss.

Here’s how it works:

Just download the app, called “Allentown PD,” for free from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store or the Allentown Police Department website.

Then look for crime alerts, or click tip and send information about cold cases or missing people. You can add pictures and videos too.

All tips are anonymous.

“I can respond to you but I have no idea who you are nor can I ever find out who you are because that information gets scrubbed before it ever gets to us,” Struss said.

Read the full story from WFMZ-TV and watch the report below:

tip411 Newsletter – March 2017

Did you know there are many ways to improve engagement with your community using tip411?

Read our March 2017 Newsletter for 5 simple ways to get started today.

Police department rolls out new tip alert system

The police department and Mayor Stephen Zanni are launching a new tip alert system to help improve public safety in the city.

The system, tip411, is an interactive way to keep the community connected and informed through email, text message and online public safety alerts. It will also allow the public to report crimes and other suspicious activity directly to police by sending anonymous text messages or submitting tips online or through the Methuen Police Department app.

“In a society where technology and media are so prominent in all aspects of our lives, we believe this new app will only help to increase our connection with our community members,” Chief Joseph Solomon said. “We have worked hard to notify, educate and respond to our citizens in all regards, and tip411 is another resource that helps facilitate this process.”

To use the system, residents can register to receive alerts from the police department via email or text message by signing up online. Or, they can download the Methuen Police Department app. It is through this app, developed by tip411, that residents can share anonymous tips with police and officers and respond back.

Read the full story from the Eagle Tribune

Get a Custom Agency Smartphone App!

Step up to a tip411 Pro subscription to get access to all of the great features of tip411 Bundle, plus the new tip411 Mobile app. This innovate app allows you to create a customized, branded app for Android/iPhone that allows residents to send anonymous tips, access agency alerts, social media channels, important information, and more to help fight crime. Contact us for a quick demo.

“We now have tip411 Pro and our own smartphone app that allows us to not only receive tips, but push out information specific to particular crimes, allows us to share crime mapping information, links to important agency information, as well as our social media accounts.” – Major David Dalton, Clearwater, Florida Police

Get Administrators Trained!

Nothing is worse than having your agency receive tips that aren’t being monitored and responded to in a timely manner. Make sure your staff is adequately trained and that tips are going to personnel who will be responsible for logging in, checking on tips, and starting a 2-way conversation with the tipster.

“At first, the Crime Analysis Unit and I were the main administrators of the program. When tips came in we would farm them out to patrol, narcotics, etc. As the popularity of the system grew, we realized there was a need for 24/7 coverage because we wanted to make sure people weren’t texting us tips and then waiting for a response to come during normal business hours.” – Major David Dalton, Clearwater, Florida Police

“I’d rather they engage with us anonymously than not at all. This is what tip411 does, and I’m a true believer in that approach.”

tip411 interviewed Major David Dalton of the Clearwater Police Department in Clearwater, Florida.

Q: Tell us about Clearwater and your department (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A:
Clearwater is a City of about 110,000 residents that spans approximately 25 square miles on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the state’s most populous county, Pinellas. It is the third largest city in the Tampa Bay area and it is a unique city with three separate geographic districts; each district presents its own unique challenges. – The East District is a mostly suburban, residential area with significant shopping and commuter activity. Our West District encompasses our downtown core, a major regional hospital, and other business entities. Our Beach District comprises Clearwater Beach, which is a nationally and internationally known tourist destination, which has been ranked “Best Beach in the United States” several times, as well as the “best Place to Watch a Sunset” in the United States.

The Clearwater Police Department is a mid-size department of 238 sworn officers. As a full service law enforcement agency, we deal with many of the same challenges as much larger cities. We have the added challenge of being host to a significant tourist and Spring Break/Spring Training population visiting our City.  With this influx of visitors and non-residents, as well as people crossing jurisdictional lines frequently and not necessarily knowing it in this small, but populated county, we needed a way for citizens, residents, and business owners to contact us in a manner that is convenient, effective, and cost efficient.

Q: How is tip411 administered in your department department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A:
Initially we started with just tip functionality only. When we launched with tip411 in 2010 we simultaneously began a CompStat program, which was formulated through a centralized Crime Analysis Unit. So, at first, the Crime Analysis Unit and I were the main administrators of the program. When tips came in we would farm them out to patrol, narcotics, etc.

As the popularity of the system grew, we realized there was a need for 24/7 coverage because we wanted to make sure people weren’t texting us tips and then waiting for a response to come during normal business hours. We made a decision as an organization that we wanted give virtual real time feedback to any received tips. That’s when we gave additional responsibility to our Communications Center Supervisors to monitor the system after hours and respond to tips when needed, while the Crime Analysis Unit remains in charge of responding to tips during business hours and cataloging and assigning each received tip.

Our Crime Analysis Unit logs every tip we receive, which has helped us track and report the types of tips we receive, who they are assigned to, and the impact and success of tip411 to our Chief of Police.

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Q: How has the tip411 system aided your department?
A:
From our perspective, it’s a critical and essential tool. I can’t think of another mechanism that gets people to freely engage directly with our Department and give us information on a variety of crimes and problems in their community.

In the past, we may have gotten narcotics tips from residents who were inclined to contact us anyway, but we were missing out on those residents who thought they saw something suspicious or unusual, but didn’t really know who to contact. tip411 helps us with a citywide approach where we’re able to reach across populations, demographics, across crime types, and that’s a huge benefit. In this day and age, virtually everyone has a cellular phone or access to the internet, so it can reach a multitude of populations.

Frankly, I’m okay with people who want to engage with us anonymously – Whatever mechanism they feel comfortable with; you want to give them a tool that they will feel comfortable using. I’d rather they engage with us anonymously than not at all. This is what tip411 does, and I’m a true believer in that approach.

We started off with just tips, and then incorporated citizen alerts through the bundle package, so we were able to send out information vital to different geographic areas in the city and alert citizens about isolated incidents of crime or concerns specific to particular communities. We now have tip411 Pro and our own smartphone app that allows us to not only receive tips, but push out information specific to particular crimes, allows us to share crime mapping information, links to important agency information, as well as our social media accounts.

In 2016, our department received 435 unique tips through tip411, and I truly believe that all of the information we’re getting is intelligence that we probably never would have received if people didn’t have the ability to share it with us quickly, safely, and anonymously.

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Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A:
Many. One that comes to mind is when we had an individual wanted for armed robbery; we had been searching for him locally for quite a while. We got a tip from an individual who knew where he was and we were able to engage with them on tip411 and obtain additional information, which wasn’t included in the original tip. They were able to give us, down to the room number, where he was staying in a hotel in Louisiana. We gave that information to the US Marshals and they were able to apprehend him immediately. It also aided us in obtaining tactical information which was beneficial to our approach to the wanted person.

Another example occurred when we got information via text about a male at a certain location with a significant amount of marijuana. We got the tip, dispatched it quickly to some of narcotics oriented Patrol Officers, and they found nearly a pound of marijuana in the house.

Q: How do you use your department’s social media accounts with tip411 to help get the word out?
A:
We try to get tip411 information out to the public as much as we can to try to maximize its usage by residents and visitors to our area. We use it in virtually every instance in which we ask for the public’s assistance. Even when we use another social media platforms, like Twitter, to shares suspect images, videos, etc., we ask followers to submit information using tip411. It doesn’t matter to our agency if it is a routine retail theft case or a murder investigation, we include that as a resource to the public.

Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in Clearwater?
A:
We try to feature it prominently on our website and we push it out as I said through Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. In every community alert that we send, we include our tip411 information. We put it on flyers, on crime alerts – just about anything we send to the public.

When we canvass neighborhoods and leave door hangers, our tip411 info is on them. We include it on our business cards, just about anywhere imaginable, so that tip411 is virtually synonymous – in the public’s mind – with the Clearwater Police Department.

Q: So, why tip411?
A: To me, one of the most significant aspects of tip411 is the “loop of communication” it creates, with the anonymous tipping and community alerts working together. Anyone can have what they describe as an “anonymous” tip service, but people are smart and they know if they have to send a tip through their email, that someone could trace it back to them one way or another.

That’s why, prior to tip411, we’ve had very limited success with other types of “anonymous” reporting services, because they know it could be tracked and that causes the public to be reticent to share information.  Our experience is that the public feels comfortable that they are truly anonymous with tip411 and that allows us to not only receive tips and information, but also have an opportunity to build trust and have additional communication with them.