Police promote tips via text

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Denton Police Chief Lee Howell announced Tuesday the latest technology breaking through the Denton Police Department — Tip411.

Anyone with a cellphone can now send an anonymous tip to Denton police by texting “DentonPD” and the tip information to 847411. The feature will allow people with information about crimes to have a two-way chat with police, Howell said.

“When you consider that somewhere out there, someone holds the key information that could solve virtually any crime in Denton, all we need is for citizens to be willing to connect with us, and a medium through which to do that,” said Howell about the new service.

Tip411, a service reserved exclusively for public safety purposes, is powered by CitizenObserver, a St. Paul, Minn., company that currently has 55 local, state and federal agencies in Texas using the system.

“I was the one involved in some training last month in Denton with some of the officers, and I am very excited to say they are a top-shelf investigative unit who will be making great use of this tool,” said Terry Halsch, a spokesman for CitizenObserver.

CitizenObserver has been in business 10 years, and the program Denton is using is six years old.

“I believe Denton is the first city ever in Denton County to use our service,” said Halsch. “We don’t require the agencies to let us know progress with the system but a local agency in Collin County has reported back the success of numerous arrests using the system.”

Halsch said the company factors success by renewal rate and the renewal rate currently stands at 90 percent.

Anonymous Web tips can also be submitted right from the police department website at www.dentonpolice.com or from its Facebook page listed under City of Denton Police Department.

“We already do a great job interacting with the public via our website, Facebook and Twitter, but this brings some new features with greater potential,” said Howell. “The ability to receive real-time anonymous texts or e-mails and be able to have an interactive dialogue through those is huge.”

All tips are anonymous, according to CitizenObserver. The technology removes all identifying information before the police department sees it so there’s no way to identify the sender.

Residents can also sign up for text and e-mail alerts, Howell said.

“We are especially hopeful that the anonymous texting and Web tip feature will make people more comfortable with passing on information without fear of retribution,” said Howell.

Tip411 is used by more than 1,200 communities in 45 states.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is mgray@dentonrc.com


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