New app targets crime
Nov 09, 2012 (Superior Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Superior Police Department launched an iPhone app this week. Named "SPDTip," the app enables the public to send anonymous tips and even photos to the police department. Police can respond back, and have an anonymous chat, if the tipster chooses.
"We've had the online text reporting for a while, you type in a short code and then send a message to us or do it online," said Deputy Chief Nicholas Alexander. "This just adds the ability to do it from an app, which tends to make it easier to do."
The app is free and downloadable from the Apple App Store.
"I've already got it on my phone here," Alexander said Wednesday before demonstrating how to send tips and photos with the app.
The program works in conjunction with the department's existing text messaging service known as "tip411," provided by the St. Paul, Minn. based Citizen Observer. The police department pays an annual fee for maintaining the anonymous tip service.
The texting tip tool was launched based on the premise that people use their phones a lot, and they would be good conduits for people to share information with the department anonymously.
It has proved to be a valuable tool.
"We have had successes in the past," Alexander said. "We've had multiple crimes over the last couple years when we've had the tip service available, the texting service, where people have responded to the system with tips that have allowed us to solve crimes."
Often the department will post information on its Facebook site, such as a suspect image or something from a surveillance camera, and get anonymous tips through the anonymous text tips system.
With the addition of the iPhone app, people can send in tips three ways -- online, via text or with the app. The department also has a phone-based tipline, (715) 395-7468.
An Android version of the new app is expected to be available in early 2013.
The tip line is not manned 24/7, so if people have an emergency they should still call 911.
Citizens can also create an account with Citizen Observer to receive alerts from the Superior Police Department either on their cell phones or in their email. Information on how to sign up with the service can be found on the city's website, http://www.ci.superior.wi.us/, under the police department tab. Click on the anonymous tips/alerts button.
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