The community can be law enforcement’s biggest resource when searching for suspects or gathering information. Agencies are able to leverage the eyes and ears of their residents when an emergency happens and more information is needed. But often citizens are not quick to report crimes or share information. They may be scared or possibly guilty of being involved in a situation. How do we remove the aspect of fear to utilize such a great resource when it comes to solving crimes and finding wanted suspects?
Anonymity is key to giving the community a safe place to share their information. In Texas, over 1.4 million anonymous tips have been submitted which resulted in 200,000 arrests and $1.4 billion of recovered property and narcotics since 1981. Nixle Tip Watch allows residents to text information to law enforcement-anonymously. The Oakland Police Department was the one of the first city to adopt the anonymous tipping function with Nixle. As a current Nixle user, they needed to take another step towards “fuller and more protected citizen participation.”
Below are the instructions on how residents can provide anonymous tips to the Oakland Police Department via Nixle
Since 2012, the Oakland Police Department has been an active user of Tip Watch. When they needed help finding a robbery suspect, they were able to send out a Nixle message with the suspects picture and description. The message included directions on how to send an anonymous tip regarding the incident. Residents are more likely to reach out to the police if they don’t feel like they putting themselves in danger or that their name could be linked to the tip. A Redondo Beach Police Chief also commented on the Tip Watch and how the simplicity and anonymity of the system encourages residents to submit tips. After a father of two was shot, Redondo Beach authorities received an anonymous Nixle tip that led them to the murder suspect over 700 miles away. Anonymous tips are leading to big breaks for law enforcement and help them cover a larger area that would have been unreachable with anonymous tipping.
Anonymity is a key factor to encourage the community to contact their police department with information. Tip Watch is a safe place where residents feel comfortable to share information that will lead to a safer community. Also, criminals who are aware of the system know that onlookers have a safe outlet to share information with law enforcement. This tool has been a positive bridge of communication between law enforcement and the community. To learn more about how anonymous tipping can improve community engagement, watch the webinar replay of Anonymous Tipping: Improving Community Engagement through 2-Way Communication.