SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When people spot a crime or possible criminal here, they can now text or email a tip to police — along with pictures and video.
TipSoft, a program launched in August, allows residents to submit tips via the Internet, an app available for iPhone and Android devices or through text messages. The program costs the city $2,400 per year.
Michael Keran, public safety technology and records director for the Scottsdale Police Department, said TipSoft yields about six tips a week, including several that aided an investigation into a series of sexual assaults.
“It’s not going to replace a 911 call or be addressed as quickly as a call coming into the dispatch center,” he said. “But it does build that conduit so that citizens can contact us and share tips with us anonymously.”
TipSoft, used by 15 police departments in Arizona, is one avenue police in most larger cities is offering for citizens to report crimes online, said Scott Decker, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University.
“When you think about the growth of the Internet and the way its changed life in America and around the world,” Decker said, “of course law enforcement is going to be a part of those changes.”
According to an August 2012 study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 92 percent of the 600 agencies surveyed use social media in some aspect of their police work.
Mesa also adopted TipSoft and an online service for filing police reports in 2011.
According to Sgt. Tony Landato, a spokesman for Mesa police, the service for filing online police reports has been used more than 1,000 times by people who didn’t necessarily need an officer present, saving time for citizens and police.
“We’re open to anything that’s going to make us more efficient,” he said.
While technology solves some logistics problems, it can also create others, according to Decker. In addition to the cost, which is a greater share of the budget for rural and small towns, he said the volume of data that comes through the Internet pipeline can sometimes be a problem for those trying to sort through it and determine what’s viable.
“We’re all pretty capable of snapping a picture and sending information along whether it’s a text or an email,” he said. “I think the real challenge is the analysis and the use of that information.”
Safeguards against the misuse of online services have been implemented by both Scottsdale and Mesa police departments. There are stringent guidelines on both websites about how to properly submit a tip or police report and what the limitations are.
In Scottsdale, Keran said there’s an IT team solely tasked with collecting, analyzing and maintaining online data.
“To be able to connect with citizens, sometimes that comes at a cost we’re willing to absorb,” Keran said. “We feel there’s more benefit out of building that rapport as opposed just sitting back and letting citizens try to find us.”
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development