Kerry: "Text A Tip" Act Will Aid Local Police Departments In Fighting Crime
Senator John Kerry, who co-chairs the Senate's bi-partisan prosecutor caucus with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), today introduced the Text a Tip Act, which would create a federal grant program to aid local police departments in stopping crime. The program is based on an innovative approach developed by the Boston Police Department (BPD) and Mayor Thomas Menino to utilize new technologies to lower crime rates. The Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield Police Departments, among others, have recently developed similar programs which have also proven extremely successful.
The text tip unit receives anonymous crime text tips augmenting their already existing tip hotline. Concerned citizens text the tip number with any information they'd like to report. The text is then stripped of all identifying information by a third party and is then transmitted to a dispatcher at the police department. After only one month of operations in Worcester the police department received 29 tips including important information about a homicide.
"Thanks to the leadership of Mayors and police departments, these efforts in Boston, Worcester and Springfield have been an overwhelming success helping law enforcement and young people communicate to help police track down leads and put criminals behind bars," said Senator Kerry. "This should be happening on a national level. Tips consistently come into the Boston Police Department from across the country. Once implemented in communities across our state and throughout the country, it will become an even more important tool in the fight against crime. I am proud that Massachusetts has led the way with this innovative effort and I will work with my colleagues to help replicate that success across the state and the nation."
"The City's anonymous tip line has been and continues to be a great tool to help solve crimes but was far too underutilized in the past," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Our innovative Text-a-Tip Program, the nation's first, helped revitalize the tip line and in the process has saved lives and solved crimes. By utilizing new technologies like the Text-a-Tip Program, we have proven that we can make streets safer by increasing the communication between residents and police through popular and very safe channels of communication that residents feel comfortable using."
"Text-A-Tip is a valuable tool that allows individuals to anonymously send a text message to a tip line. This program has essentially tripled the amount of information that the Boston Police CrimeStoppers Unit receives from concerned community members. Since the launch of this innovative program we have received over 1,000 text tips that have led to drug, gang and violent crime arrests. I commend Senator Kerry's support of this innovative program and am greatly appreciative of his dedication to our public safety efforts," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
"There have been 39 tips since the inception of "text a tip" a month ago. 20 tips have been received through text and 19 have been received through the anonymous website. These tips have given the department key information on several cases. We are very pleased with the results. We have entered a partnership with the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and they are putting information about "text a tip" on their buses. The donation of space on their buses amounts to several thousand dollars. They have also put signs in the buses that will remain. The Worcester Police Department is working to emphasize that these tips are anonymous. People want to help but some are fearful of retribution. "Text a tip' gives residents an outlet without being identified. In the end, there is a constant need to work hand in hand with members of the community for a systematic outcome. The Worcester Police department is very pleased with this program and anticipates that it will grow in popularity, making our community safer," said Worcester Police Chief Kerry Hazelhurst.
"The Springfield Police Department uses "text a tip' all the time; it is an effective crime tool. We have had success with it in regards to homicides, shootings and even breaking and enterings. Overall, are we happy with it? Yes. Does it work? Yes. "Text a tip' is a great way to provide police with anonymous information," said Springfield Police Deputy Chief Kevin Dudley.
"This service has led to the successful arrest of wanted fugitives and has also been useful in collecting information related to violent crimes and drug violations in the City of Pittsfield. Text-a-tip not only allows citizens to provide information to the department anonymously, it also allows us to request follow up information while protecting their anonymity. As technology evolves, it is important that law enforcement evolve with it. Text-a-tip is particularly useful with our younger residents, who are more comfortable with text messaging. Our Text-a-tip program was recently modified to include dedicated alias addresses for both of our high schools," said Pittsfield Police Chief, Michael Wynn.