Special to the Register
The Kentucky State Police are launching a new proactive program that allows citizens to text confidential tips from their cell phones. The program, “Text a Tip,” is designed to report criminal activity, assist with Neighborhood Watch efforts and serve as an additional resource for schools and college campuses.
“Text a Tip” is completely confidential and easy to use, according to an announcement by the statewide law enforcement agency. Anyone with texting capabilities from personal electronic devices can simply text 67283 in the address field, then type KSPTIP in the message field, leave a space and then enter information about a crime. If a tip goes through successfully, the sender will receive an instant confirmation text on their phone.
Web-based and phone tip lines have been around a while, but have the disadvantage of a perpetrator either overhearing or person on the phone or requiring Internet access.
“'Text a Tip' is gaining ground because text messaging does not require verbal communication or Internet access,” said Sgt. Rick Saint-Blancard, KSP spokesperson. “Everywhere you go, someone has a cell phone with them. Whether a person is at home or a large venue, such as a sporting event or concert, they can text a tip to us without bringing attention to themselves.”
People who live in high-crime neighborhoods often are afraid that if they are seen talking to police, they could be subject to retaliation from drug dealers or other criminals, he said.
"So when they have this option of texting us — knowing no one will know who they are — they are more willing to provide specific details and names about the activity,” he said.
“Text a Tip” messages are sent to a separate, third-party server, where identifying information is stripped out and they are assigned an encrypted alias before being sent to police.
Text-a-tip programs are being promoted in schools across the country to report weapon threats and to reduce bullying.
“No technology is more powerful then the eyes and ears of the public,” Saint-Blancard said. “The key is enlisting people on their own terms by providing a discrete, immediate and confidential reporting source.”
KSP reminds citizens to keep safety in mind when texting tips.
“If a tipster is driving when they witness suspicious activity, we ask them to safely pull to the side of the road and place their vehicle in park before attempting to text in a tip,” Saint-Blancard said.
The “Text a Tip” program is a 24-hour-a-day operation, seven days a week. The messages are received and monitored by the KSP Communications Center.
Citizens are encouraged to go ahead and call 911 if they are witnessing a crime in progress or for other emergencies that need immediate assistance.
Detailed instructions of the program can be found on the KSP website at http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/pdf/text_a_tip_sheet.pdf .
Call the KSP Public Affairs Branch at (502) 782-1780 for more information about the “Text a Tip” program.