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Vol. LXII, No. 11
May 28, 2010
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NIH Police Launch Crime-Fighting Web, Text-Messaging Tip Service

Mobile phone users throughout the NIH community now have the ability to provide anonymous crime-fighting tips through the power of text-messaging and the Internet. Using law enforcement tip management software, the service allows citizens to send tips to the NIH Police via text message from a cell phone or by sending a tip online.

“The popularity of text-messaging has created a significant opportunity for the public to help law enforcement agencies fight crime,” said Chief Alvin D. Hinton, director, Division of Police, Office of Research Services. “The ability for any citizen who owns a mobile phone to assist in crime solving is of great importance to communities globally and we are excited to play such a pivotal role in the transmission of these crime-fighting tips.”

“I have been in law enforcement for over 24 years and this is the most innovative, progressive tool I have seen in my career,” said Cpl. John Ritch, community policing officer for the division. “This program strengthens our partnership with the community. It helps us reach our mutual goal of security and safety for the NIH. We cannot do it alone. We are asking the NIH community to take an active role in reducing crime. Fortunately, our campus currently experiences a very low crime rate. Together, with this new tool, we can keep it that way.”

Information may be anonymously received and securely replied to with complete confidence. The service was built specifically to allow text-messaging users to remain anonymous by encrypting the text messages and routing them through several secure servers, protecting the personal details of the sender.

The service, called TipSoft, also allows police to respond by text message to the originating cell phone without ever knowing the identity of the individual who left the tip. The user’s information is always given an alias and a unique ID before being sent. This secure application allows the tipster and the investigator to have two-way dialog while always keeping the user’s identity anonymous.

The public may also send secure and anonymous tips online, using the same online tip provider. Senders can upload images with their tip and investigators can engage in anonymous two-way dialogue with the tipster.

The NIH Police encourage everyone to report information about any non-urgent criminal activity such as theft, vandalism, the sale and distribution of drugs or information about crimes that are being planned in the community.

“Please remember, this program is by no means meant to replace or supplement 911 for reporting emergencies,” said Ritch. “If urgent help is needed, or if you are reporting an ‘in progress’ crime, always call 911.”

All tips are reviewed by NIH Police investigative supervisors and will be acted upon as appropriate. The service is for investigative purposes only; therefore, tip submissions will not generate a call for service by an NIH patrol officer. The service is intended for tips regarding criminal activity only. “We cannot accept information regarding administrative matters,” said Ritch.

TipSoft is currently used by NYPD, LAPD, Chicago Police Department, New Scotland Yard and across Canada. Additional information on TipSoft can be found at www.smscrimetips.com and http://tipsubmit.com.

To submit a text tip, text the letters “NIH” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES). To submit a web tip, go to www.tipsubmit.com/WebTips.aspx?AgencyID=527.

Additional details about the program can be obtained by visiting the Division of Police web site at http://ser.ors.od.nih.gov/police.htm. For questions or additional information about the program, contact Ritch at (301) 496-3020 or ritchj@mail.nih.govNIHRecord Icon

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