Got a Tip? Send Text Message
This is a way that they can give us a tip, remain completely anonymous and not
have to worry about any of their friends finding out or anything like that.
“But it’s not just for young people,” he added. “Adults will benefit from it, too, especially in situations like domestic abuse or drug activity when they may not feel it’s safe to make a phone call.”
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department plans to use the program for a year and then assess the program to see
if it has been effective or not.
The sheriff ’s department also will be able to e-mail the text message to other law enforcement agencies if the reported crime crosses jurisdiction lines.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department is the first law enforcement agency in Iowa to implement the Anderson Software program. It was first adopted by the Boston and Cincinnati police departments in spring 2007.
“We get a lot of tips, but we also hear a lot of stuff after the fact,” Weber said.
“Young people are victims of crime a lot.
Osceola County taking
advantage of technology
by Zach Hacker
Northwest Iowa Review
SIBLEY—With the ever-growing popularity of text messaging as a mode of communication, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department has implemented a new software program to use texting to fight crime.
Sheriff Doug Weber came up with the idea after reading a newspaper article
profiling the new service. After researching the tool, he contacted Anderson
Software, the Texas-based company that created the TipSoft SMS program, about
bringing it to
Weber hopes the service will persuade more young people to report crimes.
“The program is really geared toward young people,” he said. “Older people will be able to use it, too, but the young people use text messaging so much.”
Another bonus to using the service is that it is completely anonymous.
When a text message is sent into the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, it
first is sent to Crime Stoppers in Canada where the name and number is encrypted
into an alias. Crime Stoppers then sends the anonymous message to Anderson
Software, which sends the sender a text message verifying that the tip was
received and gives them an alias. Anderson Software also sends the message to
the chosen authorities through the software package. After the message is
the sheriff’s department can respond to the message using the alias as the contact. Tipsters who do not want to receive a response have the option to block any further messages. The process takes less than one minute.
Department. (Photo by Josh Harrell)
TEXTING A TIP:
To report a crime to Osceola County Sheriff’s Department via text message, text “Tip721” followed by the message and send to 274637 (CRIMES). For more information, contact sheriff Doug Weber at (712) 754-2556 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.