Montgomery County became the first county in Pennsylvania to launch an anonymous crime tips app for residents, called “MontcoCrimeTips.” The crime tips app is a joint venture between the county Department of Public Safety and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in an effort to make every citizen a partner is crime fighting.
“People’s cellphones are never far from their fingertips and this app makes cellphones a powerful tool in fighting crime by allowing residents to anonymously share what they know and see, especially about drug dealing and homicides right in their own neighborhood or whenever they go about their daily business,” Steele said, writes Carl Hessler Jr. in The Times Herald.
The free app, called STOPit, is user-friendly on any cell phone. Press the “Report” button, enter the crime information, add a photo or video (if applicable) and hit the “send” button. All texted tips will be received by the county’ 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center which is run by the Department of Public Safety.
While the 911 dispatchers will be able to communicate directly with the tipsters in real time if additional information is required, officials stressed the tipster’s phone number remains anonymous.
“I want to emphasize this, it’s an anonymous tip line, it’s not captured or saved in any way,” Steele said.
Tips that require an immediate response will result in police or firefighters being dispatched. Non-urgent tips will be directed to the county’s on-call detective, who will review them and distribute them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for evaluation and potential investigation.
Dr. Val Arkoosh, county commissioners’ chairwoman, explained the county’s Department of Public Safety secured a federal Homeland Security grant that funds the county’s version of the STOPit app project at a cost of about $8,000 annually.
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