Crime Stoppers has added another tool in their fight against crime in Morgan, Scott and Cass Counties.
Crime Stoppers is now offering a mobile app, which mirrors the Crime Stoppers website. The app is available on both Google Play and the Apple store, and is free and anonymous to use.
Crime Stoppers Coordinator, Loren Hamilton, says the app was made possible by a grant obtained from Apex Clean Energy, and is a stand alone app for Morgan, Scott and Cass County Crime Stoppers.
“We had talked about it in the past but it never really got out past the the discussion stage. Then we saw the article where Apex had awarded some grants to different organizations including our own Teen Citizens Police Academy.
So we did the grant application and actually it was really easy, it came back in no time at one hundred percent. We weren’t even expecting one hundred percent, if we received any at all, but we did receive it, so that was great.”
Hamilton says app users can view Most Wanted Suspects, Information on Unsolved Crimes and Crime Prevention tips. Users may also submit information concerning a crime or location of a Most Wanted person directly from the app. There is a Link page to area Law Enforcement agencies included on the app as well.
Hamilton stresses that the app is completely anonymous to use, so much so that it causes a small downside for he and his staff.
“We operate on the credibility of anonymity where everything is anonymous, and this completely is as well. So in turn, I can’t tell you how many people download the app, how many people use the app, come to the app. There’s no analytics for that because there is no way to track that. So I guess the only way we will be able to tell that it is being used is if we see a sudden spike in incoming tips, that would be a good indication, but I can’t really pinpoint a direct number.”
Hamilton says the small downside of not being able to track from which avenue tips come from is a small price to pay, if the app helps the public feel safer in reporting tips that help keep crime off the street.
He says regardless of how the tip is submitted, Crime Stoppers has no way of knowing who the person is that submitted the tip. Hamilton says when a tip is provided to Crime Stoppers, that person is provided with a code number that is assigned to the tip, and they are instructed to contact Crime Stoppers at a later time to see if a reward is available.
He says in cases of text, website or mobile app tips, the information is sent through a third party company in Canada that encrypts the phone number or email before sending it to Crime Stoppers.
Hamilton says he can use the system to send an email or text back to the person if they are due a reward, however the message goes back through the third party system, and because there is no treaty between Canada and the U.S. on such communications, law enforcement could not get a subpoena to get the information from the company.
He says all the safeguarding is intended to help alleviate a person’s fear of retribution from the criminal, or fear they may be drug into court to testify in a criminal case.
The app does not replace the existing options for submitting tips to Crime Stoppers. Tips can be submitted through a non-recorded phone line 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 243-7300 or by texting to the word CRIMES, which is the number 274637, or by going to the website at morganscottcrimestoppers.webs.com
To download the new app, search “Morgan Scott Crimestoppers” in Google Play or the Apple App Store.