Tip Line & Rewards Service Now Offered through STOPit
We tip our hat to the people of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. The area’s WeTip anonymous crime reporting tip line has been one of the most successful in the country since its debut in 2013, drawing 1,100 reports per year. It is now an integral part of the county and local police departments’ investigations, helping solve cases that might have gone cold.
“We have a lot of WeTips vs. family members. We have a lot of WeTips vs. co-defendants, where they say, ‘Hey, you need to talk to this person,’ or, ‘He’s at this person’s house,’” said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann. “It’s just really good information that we wouldn’t get otherwise.”
STOPit recently formed a partnership with WeTip that will offer the best of both worlds for anonymous reporting – the ability to submit information either by voice calls or, now, via a mobile app. WeTip has the nation’s most effective, truly anonymous hotline reporting service with over 1.3 million crimes reported leading to over 16,000 arrests. STOPit provides an anonymous reporting solution via a highly customizable phone app that puts the power to call out harassment, bullying and other bad behaviors right in the palm of a person’s hand. Now police agencies, schools and other customers will have the option to pair these services to provide a comprehensive reporting solution, including 24/7 monitoring and a phone hotline service.
Best of all, the partnership will provide choice. The choice for a domestic abuse victim who is nervous about allowing her voice to be heard, to instead share her story in writing via text. The choice for schools to let their on-campus resource officers investigate a WeTip and decide whether the incident should be referred to a school counselor, first, or should be referred directly to police. The choice of whether and how to incentivize users to share information.
One of WeTip’s signature features is a rewards program that offers up to $1,000 for tips that lead to arrests, even while keeping the caller’s identity anonymous. With this option, callers are asked if they’d be interested in receiving a reward if their report pans out. If they answer yes, they are provided with a code that can be used to prove who they are and eventually claim their reward at a bank.
STOPit Chief Revenue Officer Neil Hooper said WeTip’s success with the program – its total cash rewards amount crossed the $1 million mark in 2013 – caught his company’s attention, and the arrangement can now be extended to the mobile app.
“There are a lot of people on the edge and not quite ready to make a tip,” Hooper said. “Even though the systems are anonymous, you sometimes need a little extra incentive to get someone to come forward.”
A Matter of Trust
For Vanderburgh County, the main factor that attracted them to WeTip was its track record on protecting the confidentiality of callers. WeTip has never turned over any information to investigators because it collects no information. When it receives a tip, it simply passes it on to the proper agency.
This is major, Hermann said, because informants will not come forward if they believe they can be exposed. If a tipline company retains its call records, there’s always a chance that an investigator or a defense attorney can convince a court to turn over the data.
The buy-in for WeTip did not come overnight, though. Hermann says that in Vanderburgh County, faith and awareness began to build after tips helped solve a few high-profile cases, and word spread that the calls really were confidential. Before long, the media began regularly running the hotline number with its stories about unsolved crimes.
Hermann is intrigued by the possibilities that can come from pairing WeTip’s capabilities with STOPit’s. He sees a mobile app for submitting anonymous reports as another great option for the public – especially young people.
“When we had the Florida shootings a few months back, we had six or eight kids who posted on social media that they were going to shoot the school up,” he said. “They didn’t, thank God, but anytime you can get that kind of information ahead of time that’s important because it can save lives – a lot of lives.”
“There’s a lot of research out there about the perils of over-reliance on technology and the downside to communicating through tech alone and forgetting how to communicate with our communities,” Hooper said. “We are hopeful that through this partnership between STOPit and WeTip, we can help more people leverage tech in a modern way to deter or stop dangerous incidents and create safer communities.”
If you would like more information about how WeTip is helping empower safe communities, please call us. One of our experts will be happy to answer your questions.
L-R: Jeff Schobel (STOPit); Sue Aguilar (WeTip); Mo Canady (NASRO Executive Director); Sue Mandell (WeTip)
Jeff Schobel, STOPit VP of Enterprise Solutions, at the STOPit booth during the National School Safety Conference.
Hosted by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), over 1,000 people gathered in Reno Nevada for this annual event.
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