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.

Interview with Delhi Township: Part I

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

PART I

Q: Tell us about your community and the Delhi Township Police Department (how many residents, how many sworn, etc.).
A:
Delhi Township covers 10.1 square miles and is just shy of 30,000 residents. Our department has 32 sworn officers and is open 8am-10pm each day. We are a “bedroom community” that sits on the Ohio River and borders the City of Cincinnati as well as Green Township, both of which use tip411 as well.

Being a suburb of Cincinnati, we deal with many big city crimes, just on a smaller scale. We have drug issues like most communities; we see domestic violence cases, car thefts, burglaries and robberies – Things that spill over from the city into our township. We don’t have much violent crime; averaging about one homicide every year or two.

We have an excellent relationship with the Cincinnati Police Department as well as the 47 other law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County. We rely on the Hamilton County Police Association for joint training exercises, joint SWAT Team operations, and more.

Q: How do you hear about tip411?
A:
We launched tip411 in 2011. I had been researching it for a few years before we signed on as I wanted to do my due diligence, but I first heard through the Cincinnati Police Department when I saw them using it.

When I was researching possible systems to use here in Delhi Township, what I was looking for was something that would help me get information out to residents in a timely manner, but also something that would be affordable and easy to use. This was important because I did not want to have to spend time training officers on a system they found too complicated to use as part of their daily duties.

Right away, I saw what I could do with tip411.

Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A:
I put out alerts along with my investigative lieutenant. I use it for investigations but also for news sharing (promoting/hiring new staff, road closures, etc.) and all types of crimes.

All of my investigators receive tips as they come in and manage them to share information and communicate with the tipster to try to get more information.

To make sure our residents can find how to send us tips, we have links to our tip411 reporting form on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. We also use the Crime Map provided as part of our tip411 subscription to add share crime information with the public and allow people to submit tips through the information shown on the map.

We’re very fortunate as people in Delhi Township are willing to communicate with us to help fight crime, and even more people are now as they are less afraid due to being able to share information anonymously.

 

Check back next week for part II of our conversation with Chief Howarth.

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.

Promote, Promote, Promote!

The most successful agencies are those who hold press conferences to launch their system, regularly send alerts, hang posters around their community, distribute business cards with their tip411 information on it, and more. Need help? Reach out to our Public Relations Director for tips

“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.” – Major David Dalton, Clearwater, Florida Police

Clinton PD rolls out alert system

The Clinton Police Department is extending another avenue of communication to the public, this time an alert system that allows citizens to get up-to-the-minute information on crime, traffic, weather and local events.

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The Tip411 Alert System is a component of the department’s existing Tip411 program designed to keep residents as informed as possible, while allowing police and those they serve to easily interact with each other. The department has been testing the system, which is similar to what other municipalities and colleges use.

Citizens choose to participate in the program and receive a text in the event of an emergency or other major events. The program is similar to the city’s ConnectCTY, but more direct and quicker than a phone call, city manager Shawn Purvis noted.

“This program allows citizens to subscribe to this alert, which they can receive either by text or email. It will alert people to such things as crime — say we have car break-ins in a neighborhood that we want to tell people about — or events, like a triathlon or N.C. 24 work, and we may have some traffic situations,” Police Chief Jay Tilley said.

Read the full story from the Sampson Independent.

Minneapolis Mayor Asks Residents to use tip411 to Help Stop Homicides

tip411 can be a powerful took to help police and city governments combat crime, particularly homicides.

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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.

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.