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DES launches national tip411 anonymous text program

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
September 6, 2012 | News
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In this Sentinel file photo, Military police officers assigned to the 89th Military Police Brigade discuss the movement of a range fire last summer. Fort Hood Police have launched tip411, an internet-based tool that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to police. The crime-fighting tool can be accessed by texting the word “DES” and the tip to 847411. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Fort Hood Police have added a new dimension to the eyes and ears of Fort Hood to help create a safer community, and have notched yet another first in the Army as the only military installation to field the program.

Fort Hood Directorate of Emergency Services has launched tip411, an internet-based tool that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to police, and lets the police respond back, creating a two way-anonymous “chat.”

The program launched Aug. 15, Capt. Jonathan Caylor, Community Policing supervisor, said.

“We have so many ways that people can give us information, but we were lacking a way for the public to truly deliver that information anonymously,” he said.

Reserved exclusively for public safety, tip411 puts a powerful crime-fighting tool into the hands of the community via their text-enabled cellphones.

Anyone with a cellphone can now send an anonymous tip to the Fort Hood Police by texting the word “DES” and the tip information to 847411 (tip411). Community members should be aware that normal text message and data usage charges may apply.

“The program is 100-percent anonymous,” Caylor said. “Citizen Observer’s technology removes all identifying information before the police department sees it, so there’s no way to identify the sender.”

With society leaning heavily on social media with electronic communication, the police department wanted to become involved and help establish better dialogue with the community in a way that is both familiar and safe for those reporting the information.

Adoption of the program is a partial spin-off of an anti-bullying program at Smith Middle School. Band Against Bullying, which started in 2011 at the middle school, allowed students a means to communicate with law enforcement about criminal activities in their school and their neighborhoods.

“Now, we are able to expand on that program and reach out to our entire community,” Caylor said. “This enables them to take part in crime prevention efforts on the installation.”

So far, the tip line has not seen heavy traffic, but Caylor said he expects that to change as word spreads about the new system.

If the program does take off, additional resources to expand the program could become available at Fort Hood, he said.

“I think the program has a lot of potential to grow,” Caylor said. “Once our staff becomes more familiar with the program, it will be easier for them to facilitate the appropriate resources to partner with our 13 communities.”

Nationwide, the program is popular with civilian law enforcement agencies, but Fort Hood is the only military installation currently utilizing the system. The program is used by the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals, Sgt. Andrew Samarripa, community relations officer, Fort Hood DES, said.

To the police, community involvement is critical to crime prevention. Tip411 is the installation’s newest tool to encourage community involvement in its installation’s security.

“Nobody knows a neighborhood better than those who live there,” Caylor said. “We rely on those in the community to alert law enforcement of any suspicious or unusual activity occurring on the installation and in housing areas.”

The more information law enforcement and first responders have, the better they can serve the installation and protect those who live and work at Fort Hood.

Community members should still dial 911 in an emergency, he said.

“This service is for non-emergency investigative information only and will not necessarily generate a radio call or summon the police to your location,” he said.
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