Utah Residents Reporting Crimes Online

 Utah is the latest state to launch an anonymous online crime tips program. In fact, 50 Utah law enforcement agencies are using the service called TipSoft operated by CrimeReports.com. The program allows users to submit anonymous reports to law enforcement agencies via text message, smartphone app or online program – free for iPhone and Android users to download.

Of course in the event of an actual emergency, police still advise to call 911. Utah’s new TipSoft program has been up and running in select police stations since late July and is just one of more than 600 crime stoppers programs currently operating throughout the United States – including New York, Los Angeles and Kentucky.

CrimeReports.com statistics state that one in 14 tips result in an arrest – leaving 13 tips as possible scams or incomplete, inaccurate reports.

According to a 2010 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, the likelihood of false suspicious activity reports will only increase by implementing these anonymous alerts. The ACLU argument is that civilians can submit whatever “facts” they want – regardless of validity. 

In the online program’s defense, this technology will only help law enforcement agencies search for criminals by informing police (even showing police with the program's video capabilities) about crimes they may not even know about – and could even help save a life by speeding up emergency communication efforts.

In the smartphone era, law enforcement and emergency response officials need to adopt new communication methods to continue reaching users. According to a new research report from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 85 percent of U.S. customers own cell phones – while Gigaom.com predicts one in two Americans will have a smartphone by December 2011.

Every year the number of mobile users increases and with those increased totals law enforcement agencies need to take hold of new opportunities to reach mass audiences. In the end, the number of false tips may be higher than expected, but the few that are valid can actually help solve crimes and possibly save lives.

Posted by Christina Miralla on Aug 24, 2011


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