With the help of a new program called TIPSOFT, anyone can send anonymous tips via text message or online to the Coral Gables Police Department.
As the first municipality in Miami-Dade County to offer this program, the department can now respond to residents who send a text message to “CRIMES” (274637) with the keyword “GABLES” from a mobile phone.
There is also a free application, TipSubmit, for iPhone and Android users.
“If you have some sort of information about drug activity or something suspicious, you can put the city where you are in, and the phone will verify where you are at and will tell you the closest agencies,” said communications operator Nicole Puig, who is in charge of the TIPSOFT program. “It will give you classifications such as homicide, drugs and burglary.”
Citizens are given a unique login ID online to ensure tips remain anonymous and are offered the option of uploading a photo with their submissions. The one-and-a-half-month-old program was introduced by a lieutenant who attended a software meeting about various 911 texting programs.
“He talked to different administrators and got feedback,” Puig said. “They really liked it.”
The police force decided to adopt the program after receiving mostly positive reviews from other users.
The NYPD, LAPD, Department of Homeland Security and more than 600 other institutions use TIPSOFT, which was created by the company CrimeReports. The City of Coral Gables is hoping this initiative will prevent, reduce and solve crime, according to a press release. Citizens are urged to report non-urgent activities such as vandalism, theft, the sale of drugs and unsolved cases.
“We haven’t been receiving a lot of tips yet since it is new,” Puig said.
Some students hope this will reduce crime on campus.
“I think it would be helpful to campus life because people wouldn’t be as afraid to give the tips since it is anonymous,” freshman Taylor Lombardi said.
Junior Kim Blum feels that the system removes the stigma of reporting an incident to the police.
“It makes me feel safer that we have this system,” Blum said. “More people might report things because they are less scared of being a tattle-tale. I would use it if I felt like there was something that needed to be reported.”
However, Blum does not understand the reason for introducing the program.
“I feel pretty safe already, so I don’t know if we really need that much change,” she said.