Camden County Police Department launches new STOPit app for texting tips

By Joyce Evans

CAMDEN, NJ, July 16, 2019 (Fox 29 Philadelphia) – The Camden County Police Department is using a new tool called STOPit to deter crime. The app allows police to collect reports from citzens about illegal activity. People can submit information in real-time and anonymously. “We’re going to try anything to reach out to the community to open those channels of communication,” Camden County Police Community Commander Lt. Zsakhiem James told FOX 29.

“You can actually send us a picture so we can see exactly what you’re looking at instead of offering vague eyewitness descriptions, and you can text back and forth with an officer inside the app without them ever knowing who you are,”  Lt.Zsakhiem said.

STOPit also allows officers to notify the public about important public safety information.

Since April, 600 people have signed up for the app and Camden police have received over 500 tips. 

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Students Use App More Than 100 Times To Report Bad Behaviors

FRANKLIN, IN, June 11, 2019 (Daily Journal) – Students at Franklin schools used the STOPit app more than 100 times to report conflict and suspicious activity in the final two months of the school year.

Two reports came from the district’s five elementary schools. The other 102 came from Custer Baker Intermediate School and Franklin Community High School, which had 36 reports each, and Franklin Community Middle School, which had 30 reports, Operations Director Jeff Sewell said in an email.

The app is the first of its kind at Franklin schools, which hope to encourage students to report misconduct using the shield of anonymity. Details about the types of activity reported, such as suspected drug use or bullying, were not available.

“I think we’re getting more reports overall. We’re getting some reports we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because people have the option to submit anonymously,” Sewell said. “In some cases, students leave their name and are willing to talk.”

Using the app, students can share text, photos or videos and communicate with school administrators without having their identities released.

Other Johnson County school districts have their own reporting systems. Center Grove schools uses a service called Safe Schools Alert. Using the system, students can report their concerns anonymously through text, email, phone or online, according to the district’s website. Edinburgh Schools has what they call a Bully Buster Box, where students can submit bullying incidents, Superintendent Doug Arnold said.

Clark-Pleasant schools has a link on its website where people can report anonymous tips. It also has a space where users can attach files, such as images, to accompany their reports. Indian Creek schools also has a link on its website, called a bullying report form, but requires the name of the person reporting the incident.

Most of the reports on the STOPit app have been about intrapersonal conflict that has not reached the stage of bullying, Sewell said.

“We don’t very frequently have alleged bullying so much as ‘so and so was mean to me,’ or ‘someone said a bad thing about me’ or spread a rumor. Some of that kind of stuff is more a conflict between peers than systemic and regular repeated harassment,” Sewell said.

“We try to adhere to the state guidelines for what constitutes bullying. Mean behaviors happen all the time, it doesn’t mean someone is being bullied, but if the same behavior is done over and over, it’s just one of the ways that becomes bullying.”

When there is conflict between students, staff will sit down with students and try to resolve the issue after hearing what both students have to say, he said.

In cases of sexual harassment or assault, more serious action is immediately required. In those cases, Franklin schools will report the incident to the Department of Child Services, which would give information to law enforcement. The school would also contact the victim’s parents and ensure the victim is protected and away from the student who committed the actions, Sewell said.

Some reports involve vaping either tobacco or marijuana, which can lead to school discipline and legal action. The main purpose of the system, however, is to make sure students are helped to correct their behavior rather than punished, Sewell said.

“How do we help you get into positive relationship practices and conflict resolution to set yourself up to be successful? In a lot of these cases other sources of stress in their lives or in their home lives are causing harmful behavior, we have to be aware of all those factors,” Sewell said.

“We always hold kids out of line accountable, but not to be penalized so much as to prevent them from growing beyond that. There will be consequences, but let’s make them effective in helping students grow.”

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Camden County Police Encouraged by Early Results of Crime Tips App

CAMDEN, NJ, May 29, 2019 (TAPinto) – The Camden County Police Department in April unveiled its participation in the STOPit App, offering citizens a way to anonymously report crimes or provide tips through their smartphone.

Just over a month later, the police department in New Jersey has shared early results in its ongoing effort to build participation.

The CCPD received more than 200 tips through the STOPit system, with 320 activations in the short timeframe, Lt. Zsakhiem James said Thursday.

Tips sent in via the traditional anonymous call line are not counted whereas “the app measures the metrics,” James said.

“We’re encouraged by the number of tips,” said James, who noted an additional 15 activations and counting Friday morning as word continues to spread. 

James said the format of the app has proved to be helpful. While residents can utilize the police tip line or connect through various social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor), the STOPit system’s shielding of identity can be the difference in reaching out.

“There is some strength to it being anonymous,” he said. “It seems to be taking off.”

Members of the public have responded through the app’s messaging feature, too. It’s dependent on the specific situation, James said, but when needed, the anonymous chat has allowed for police personnel to gather further information about a tip. 

“If you have a friend or know someone who could use this, have them download it,” James said. “The one thing we want is conversation.”

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BCSD Takes New Steps For Student Safety – Updated Protocol, New Reporting App Planned For 2019-2020

Blain County, I.D., May 17, 2019 (Idaho Mountain Express) — The Blaine County School District will roll out a suite of new safety protocols next year, Director of Student Safety Dave Stellers announced during a monthly meeting of the board of trustees on Tuesday night.

This district plans to roll out a more intensive threat-assessment protocol, and adopt a smartphone app for reporting inappropriate or dangerous behavior at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The current threat-assessment protocol, which Stellers described as a “single-pronged” approach using counselors or school psychologists to intervene, had fallen behind recent standards, he said.

“Current climates in schools dictate that we do a bit of a better job than that,” Stellers said.

A team of administrators, social workers, school psychologists and school resource officers developed the new practices.

The three-part approach starts with ongoing prevention, which will be augmented by a partnership with StopIt Solutions to introduce an app capable of anonymously reporting suspicious or harmful behavior. Those reports will notify newly-formed threat assessment teams comprised of building administrators, counselors and, if necessary, a school resource officer.

Parents and students will have access to the app, which allows for anonymous, real-time communication between the reporting party and responders.

“We feel that it doesn’t work if it is not anonymous,” Stellers said. “This is the national standard right now.”

Stellers has started training staff to use the app, and intends to launch a public education effort over the summer.

Finally, the revamped protocol will emphasize “postvention”—that is, scheduled debriefs with the assessment team, and follow-ups between the student or students involved and the director of student safety, who will maintain records documenting threat assessments.

“This is going to be valuable tool,” Stellers said. “I think this is going to help our kids, and keep them a lot safer.”

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Frankton-Lapel Schools Earn Award For Generosity

LAPEL, I.N., May 9, 2019 (Pendleton Times Post) — For its increase in gifts to United Way, Frankton-Lapel Community Schools earned the 2019 Rise to the Challenge Award.

Kim Williams of United Way of Madison County presented the award to the corporation at the most recent school board meeting on April 18.

Williams said 11 businesses and schools received the award, which indicates an increase of more than 5 percent in employees giving to United Way.

Frankton-Lapel schools surpassed that amount substantially with an 80 percent increase.

“Every school system in the county received the award,” Williams said. “The schools were amazingly generous.”

Williams said the Frankton-Lapel school system had the greatest increase of all the schools and businesses.

More than $8,000 was raised, which will be matched by the Indiana United Way organization.

“Because of their generosity, $16,000 will go back into Madison County to (help) struggling families,” Williams said.

Assistant Superintendent Sterling Boles said 42 percent of all Frankton-Lapel school system employees gave.

Putting a stop to it with STOPit

Boles informed the board on usage of the new STOPit app, which lets students anonymously report concerns, such as bullying, cyberbullying, hazing, student/teacher relationships, violence/threats, substance abuse and others.

Launched in March, Boles said there had been 169 entries logged into the app.

The assistant superintendent said 75 percent of the submissions have been valid. He said they have had students with concerns about personal issues, other students being picked on, or just noticing a friend or classmate seems to be depressed.

“We’ve had (submissions) where kids knew if someone has Juuls on them. There are friends worried about friends, and it’s hard to put a price on that. (The app) has been a very good thing.”

Boles added the app keeps the conversation threads open so dialogue can continue about the students concerns.

“By and large, it has been a good thing,” Boles added.

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ABC News: Instagram Announced Methods To Stop Bullying, And Experts Weigh In

Facebook-owned Instagram has a lofty new goal: to lead the fight against cyberbullying.

“Sometimes bad things happen on Instagram. We know that,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said at Facebook’s F8 developer conference last week. “We want to lead the fight against cyberbullying.”

The platform is currently testing new features in Canada to foster a “less pressurized” environment, but some are questioning the efficacy of those efforts.

“I am always happy to see any social media platform do something to address cyberbullying and digital drama. But I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. Popular is popular. Too much influence and money rides on it,” Parry Aftab, founder and executive director of StopCyberbullying Global, told ABC News.

At the conference, Mosseri announced the several initiatives being tested, including hiding likes, a “nudge” for being mean and an “away” mode. “If you’re typing something aggressive, maybe we give you a light nudge to rethink that.”

Hiding likes publicly is part of an overall policy to make the app seem less like “a competition,” Mosseri said — the likes can still be seen privately. The intention, he said, is “to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”

This aligns with Facebook’s attempts to get people to focus on posting for closer acquaintances of “groups” rather than all of their friends.

The “nudge” feature alerts a person typing a comment that may be mean that it may be, well, mean to do so. This would add to the platform’s preexisting comment filter.

“If you’re typing something aggressive, maybe we give you a light nudge to rethink that,” Mosseri said.

Additionally, users can turn on an “away” mode to avoid the app during sensitive moments, like if you switch schools or have a breakup, Mosseri suggested.

Cyberbullying experts had mixed responses to the new initiatives.

The majority of U.S. teens — 59% — say they have been cyberbullied, according to a Pew study published last September.

Neil Hooper, the Chief Operating Officer of STOPit, an anti-bullying app used by 3,800 schools, told ABC News deterring bad behavior before it happens is key. 
 
"Their 'nudge' feature may help with deterrence," Hooper said. "However, one caution is that in our experience, kids often use a wide variety of slang, innuendos and double meanings when they are bullying, and staying ahead of this might be a challenge. But we do agree that deterrence is an extremely powerful approach."

Neil Hooper, STOPit Solutions COO

Social media platforms have already been criticized for not detecting hate speech and violence quickly enough after it’s been posted, as demonstrated in the rampant livestream of the New Zealand mosque attacks in March.

Jon Roos, a behavioral psychologist with a practice in Los Angeles, told ABC News detecting bullying can also be complicated because it can be so tailored to individuals it wouldn’t be noticed by other people, much less artificial intelligence.

“The words can seem innocuous,” Roos said. “Kids get bullied all the time with very specific names — from TV shows, for example.”

He advises his patients’ families to spend as much time off social media and in face-to-face real life social interactions as possible.

Still, advocates say there’s a need for action by tech companies.

“Better and faster handling of abuse reporting, watching and disciplining of offending users, gaining user trust so they will report cyberbullying and not fear reprisals or being ignored by Instagram is what will turn things around,” Aftab, the StopCyberbullying Global director, who is also a longtime cybersecurity and privacy lawyer, said.

“Right now, they don’t do the kind of discipline that gaming platforms do — three strikes and you’re out. They need to,” she said. “But as long as they are counting and monetizing the number of users, they won’t.”

FULL STORY

Camden County Police Department Joins Growing Number of Police Departments Nationwide Partnering With STOPit Solutions to Empower and Protect Citizens

Tech provider helps police department create a safer community.

Camden County Police Department (CCPD) has enrolled with STOPit Solutions, the leading technology service that empowers people to speak up for themselves and others, while giving public safety the insight it needs to keep communities safe. 

Using STOPit Solutions, Camden residents can now submit completely anonymous reports to CCPD directly from their mobile phones or web browsers, allowing the police department to investigate and even prevent dangerous situations in the community, all while citizens remain anonymous. Once a report is received, CCPD will be able to manage the tip through STOPit Solutions’ efficient and powerful communication platform, including the ability to message with the anonymous reporter and address issues instantly. 

“We derive our power from the community,” CCPD Lt. Zsakhiem James told NJPen. “And that makes a bigger difference. The community will give you the chance on small things [which can] build up to the larger things.” 

Other townships partnering with STOPit Solutions have already seen results in empowering their communities through anonymous reporting. In Somerset County, New Jersey, for instance, tips through the STOPit App helped with the arrest of an Arizona fugitive, as well as dismantled a prostitution ring.  

When it comes to the ease of reporting offered through the app, James told TapInto.net, “There seems sometimes that there is strength in anonymity.” He went on to explain, “Most people have their phone with them all the time, and it only takes a few seconds.”  

Camden joins a growing number of police departments that have partnered with STOPit Solutions nationwide. 

“Our team at STOPit Solutions is proud to help police departments keep their communities safe, and we are thrilled to partner with CCPD in doing that for Camden,” Neil Hooper, Chief Operating Officer of STOPit Solutions said. “Camden is undergoing a resurgence with the city embracing innovative technology, and we are honored to be a part of this modern community program that aims to help preserve the quality of life in Camden neighborhoods”. 

About STOPit Solutions: 

STOPit Solutions creates safer places to learn, work and live. STOPit Solutions helps thousands of schools, offices, and townships worldwide inspire speak-up cultures through 100 percent anonymous reporting tools and 24/7 monitoring 365 days a year.  

To learn more about STOPit Solutions please visit www.stopitsolutions.com

For more information, contact Agatha Asch, STOPit Solutions Marketing and Communications Director, at 908-748-4356 or aasch@stopitsolutions.com.

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Haddonfield Middle School Unveils New Method Of Reporting Suspicious Behavior

On April 15 at the Haddonfield Middle School auditorium, students, faculty and administrators were treated to a presentation on the latest electronic means of combating bullying and preventing other potentially destructive behaviors. 

STOPit Solutions is an anonymous reporting software program available across the district, geared toward students who feel the need to express concerns of any kind to school administrators without fear of being discovered. The software is free, easy to use and can be downloaded to a smartphone or computer. 

According to the company site, the app currently boasts over 2.5 million users, and with its built-in messenger service, can also accommodate real-time, two-way correspondence between students, other concerned parties and school administrators.

“We would like to think that all of our kids and parents are brave enough to come into school or into an administrator’s office and report what they see or what they hear. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. Nobody wants to be a snitch or a rat,” said Sandra Hurwitz, anti-bullying coordinator for Haddonfield School District. 

“In order to have best practice here in Haddonfield, we need to make it available both ways: you absolutely can walk into an office in person, or if you don’t want to get involved and you don’t want someone to know you came in and reported something – especially if it involves somebody you think is dangerous – you don’t want your name out there, then this anonymous reporting platform is an answer.” 

During the two back-to-back sessions in the middle school, students were treated to several sobering reminders of how anything they post online exists outside of their control once it’s posted, no matter where it may be posted – and that it cannot be taken back even after deletion. 

Since technology has grown to the point where progressively younger students are actively utilizing it on a regular basis both in school and out of school, there’s no sense in trying to tell them not to use it, said presenter Melissa Straub; rather the assembly attempted to impress responsible use and use for the greater good.   

“I think a lot of this is really focusing in on balancing the good and the bad, and making sure the kids understand that the gift of technology is there, however they still need to use it responsibly. And that there are consequences that they will have to face that we didn’t face when we grew up. And so, we encourage a relationship with students, parents and even law enforcement to get involved and keep them educated,” she said.  

Straub currently works as a private investigator, social justice advocate, and a licensed private detective in the state. According to a release that accompanied notice of the assembly, she is a former police detective with specialized training as a school resource officer and has more than 20 years of experience in the field of child advocacy, sex crimes, cybercrime, white collar crime, and fraud issues. 

In 2016, Straub was added to the national team of STOPit Solutions, which mitigates and controls inappropriate online conduct. Straub serves the company as a cyber-security expert, offering ongoing support to schools, corporations and businesses throughout the country. 

“Using something like STOPit gives the kids the power to have a voice. And to teach them about empathy, about helping each other, it’s so key. Because you’re not going to stop where technology is taking us in terms of what they’re exposed to, but you can encourage them to be there for each other,” Straub admitted. 

Hurwitz concurred that the presentation had a dual purpose: to make sure kids realize they can’t become involved with someone on the internet they don’t know, post or share something that would reflect on their reputation for anyone to see. 

“In the recent past, we’ve had students at the middle school level who have learned that lesson the hard way, unfortunately. We’re hoping this brings a level of awareness to all the kids.” 

Full story via The Haddonfield Sun

Camden County Police Roll Out STOPit App for Anonymous Tipsters

camden community commander zsakhiem james

By Matt Skoufalos | April 17, 2019

In Camden City, anonymous tips help break major cases, alert police to issues that require their attention, and bring violent criminals to justice.

“The fruits of that have made the city safer, and have made the community safer, and have improved the trust and the dialogue between the police and the community,” said Lt. Zsakhiem James, Community Commander for the Camden County Police Department.

Now the department is testing another mechanism by which to communicate with them: a free app called STOPit.

“We have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Nextdoor, and now STOPit,” James said.

“We’ll go with anything and everything that enables us to communicate [with residents].”

The STOPit app is free to download (use the access code CAMDENNJ), and is available for both Apple and Android devices. Anyone can use it to report non-emergency concerns directly to the department. There’s an in-app chat for officers to have conversations with the user, and a file attachment function for sending photos or videos.

James also stressed that STOPit is not a substitute for 9-1-1 calls in an emergency situation, but might be useful for slower-developing circumstances like illegal dumping, drug trade, prostitution, or nuisance crimes.

It’s also useful for following up on investigations where the police are soliciting help from the community.

“We’re not asking anyone to put themselves in harm’s way to give us information,” James said.

“But if you happen to be in an area where you happen to see something, and you happen to say something, fine.”

Officers will filter through the tips they receive, and assign detectives to investigate as needed, James said. STOPit can generate case numbers for the department to manage internally, which, if they yield criminal investigations, would be managed throughout the regular department workflow.

“Any tip has to be corroborated before any police action is done,” James said.

“We take all of our tips very seriously.

“We’ll take notice if it’s been used to harass or annoy.”

For residents who believe “that there’s strength in anonymity,” James said STOPit could help overcome “that stigma of talking to police.

“We derive our power from the community,” James said. “And that makes a bigger difference. The community will give you the chance on small things, and build up to the larger things.”

So far, the only other law enforcement agency in New Jersey to use STOPit is the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office; if it finds success in Camden, other agencies might follow suit.

Full Story

Camden Residents Can Now Send Anonymous Crime Tips Through STOPit App

camden pd nj stopit launch

CAMDEN, NJ—The Camden County Police Department [CCPD] has a new way for Camden residents to engage with the police department.

City residents can now use the free STOPit App on their smartphones to anonymously report any crimes or provide crime tips to the CCPD.

“There seems sometimes that there is strength in anonymity,” said CCPD Lt. Zsakhiem James. “This allows you to talk to us without actually having to stand face to face with us.”

The app can be downloaded from the Apple or Android app store. Once downloaded, users are prompted to enter an access code. To submit tips to the CCPD, users enter “camdennj.” From there, tips — along with any photos or videos — can be submitted to the police department.

Once tips are submitted, CCPD personnel in the department’s command center and its detective bureau are notified, who then disseminate the information to the appropriate department for investigation.

James said the app should only be used to report crimes such as prostitution, drug dealing, illegal dumping or other non-emergency incidents. In the event of an emergency, residents should still dial 911.

“It should be used to bring our attention to a growing issue in your neighborhood,” James said. “We’re not asking anybody to put themselves in harms way.”

In addition to the photo or video feature, which Lt. James said can help provide a great deal of information to the police department, the app also features an anonymous chat function that allows CCPD personnel to message the tipster for more any more information that may be needed. All tips submitted to the police department are investigated, James said.

“We’ll pay attention to all of the small things because their a precursor to larger things,” James said.

According to Camden County spokesperson Dan Keashen, the CCPD is the first police department in New Jersey to use the app. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is the only other law enforcement agency to use it.

“Most people have their phone with them all the time, and it only takes a few seconds,” James said. The CCPD also has an anonymous tip line for city residents to call, 856-757-7042.

“But it seems like some people would rather text than talk,” James said. “What we want to do is remove barriers for people to engage with the police department and to speak to us. So we’ll go with anything and everything that allows us to increase communication with the public.”

In addition to STOPit, the police department also engages the public in person on the street and at neighborhood events, and through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Nextdoor.

James said the CCPD has been able to solve major investigations thanks to an anonmyous tip the police department received.

“Those tips have made the community safer,” James said.

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