Information from the community remains one of the most important tools officers use when cracking cases. Community policing, in the form of observations and tips, often offers the best set of eyes and ears a department has. That’s why the Asheville Police Department has many ways to make it easy and confidential to relay information to them.
Text-a-Tip is the latest in a selection of opportunities for the community to report criminal activity and interact with the Asheville Police Department. The software, which enables tips through smart phones, already rivals the APD’s other tip lines in terms of volume. Since Text-a-Tip launched in July, the department has received 58 tips over the system, says APD Sgt. Michael Lamb, and the information has resulted in several arrests and drug seizures.
“It’s a way to give us information in almost real time and at the same time remain completely anonymous.” Lamb says. “We need the eyes and ears out in the community. They know about things before we ever could.”
The system allows people to text information to the APD through a third party provider, meaning the source of the tip remains anonymous. By texting and responding, the tipster and the officer can communicate back and forth.
“This is technology that is comfortable and easy to use, especially for young people who are used to texting,” Lamb says.
To use Tex-a-Tip, text “APDTIP” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES) on your cell phone or mobile device (Note: standard rates may apply). A third party routes the message to an APD Criminal Investigations Supervisor who assigns it to the on-duty patrol commander. “We’re all set up for it,” Lamb says. “It goes straight to our smart phones.”
Officers never see the phone number or identity of the person relaying information, and the tipster can end the conversation by texting “STOP.”
Text-a-Tip is especially helpful when used alongside the mapping technology found at crimereports.com that lets a viewer track calls for service around town and in their neighborhood. They can click on an icon and a window displays the type of crime under investigation. If the person has any information, he or she can report specifically about the incident through Text-a-Tip or on a personal computer through the WebTips link.
Click here to find out more about Text-a-Tip and other community policing resources.
Click here to see important messages from the Asheville Police Department.
Anyone with information about a crime can contact the Asheville Police Department at (828) 252-1110 or Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers at (828) 255-5050.