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.

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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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Smoky Hill ESC Partners with STOPit to Confront School Safety, Bullying, Harassment, Violence

Kids are in school to learn; they shouldn’t also have to worry about how to handle a threat of violence they overhear or bullying behavior they observe.

Thanks to a partnership between Smoky Hill Education Service Center and STOPit Solutions, many Kansas K-12 students will have a new, powerful tool to help make their schools a safer place.

Neil Hooper, chief operating officer of STOPit Solutions, said that the STOPit app helps more than 3,500 institutions worldwide create safer schools. The app, website, and phone hotline allow continuous reporting and 24-hour monitoring of potential or actual school violence, harassment, bullying, or self-harm, Hooper said.

“We could not be more excited to work with Smoky Hill to help Kansas schools with their school and student safety,” Hooper said.

Students may use STOPit to report incidents anonymously, but the website and app also allow STOPit representatives to ask follow-up questions for more details. With the new Smoky Hill ESC partnership, school districts can address these important school safety issues at a low cost with minimal administration required from schools.

Chris Moddelmog, executive director of SHESC, said he was excited to add the STOPit app to the service center’s wide variety of critical programs and services.

“Learning is at the heart of every school,” Moddelmog said. “However, learning can’t really begin if students don’t feel safe and secure in the classroom. STOPit is a great tool for empowering students to take action, and we’re looking forward to offering it.”

Heath Johnston, assistant principal with Shenandoah County Public Schools in Virginia, has already experienced STOPit and said it solves a perennial problem in education.

“There’s always a focus on finding a way for students to report [situations] but not having to come forward,” Johnston said, “because it’s intimidating for some people to come into the office and tell the principal.”

Interested institutions can arrange a free demo of the system at stopitsolutions.com/shesc or by contacting Stephanie Lane at slane@stopitsolutions.com or 908-748-4036. An informational video is at youtu.be/hpg-bli0xas.

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Giving Kitchen Enrolls With STOPit Solutions to Empower and Protect Employees

Giving Kitchen has enrolled with STOPit Solutions, the leading technology service that empowers employees to speak up for themselves and others while giving management the insight it needs to keep workplace culture safe and positive.

Using STOPit Solutions, Giving Kitchen employees can now submit completely anonymous reports to Giving Kitchen directly from their mobile phone or web browser allowing the organization to identify and even prevent inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Once a report is received, Giving Kitchen will be able to manage incidents through STOPit Solutions’ efficient and powerful investigative tools including the ability to message with the anonymous reporter and address issues instantly.

“It’s never too early for a small organization to start planning a future where you need really strong safeguards against abuse, malfeasance, embezzlement, sexual harassment or discrimination,” Bryan Schroeder, Executive Director of Giving Kitchen said.

The adoption of STOPit Solutions is an important part of Giving Kitchen’s continued effort to provide and promote a safe working environment for all employees. Giving Kitchen is on track to double in size over the next few years and hopes that this proactive step in empowering their employees will lead to better communication in reporting incidents as well as deter them from ever happening.

“We are excited to partner with Giving Kitchen. Our team and tools over at STOPit Solutions will help them maintain a positive work environment as they grow as an organization,” Neil Hooper, Chief Operating Officer of STOPit Solutions said.

About Giving Kitchen:

Giving Kitchen (GK) is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources in order to create a community where crisis is met with compassion and care, and anyone can be a hero. Since its inception, GK has given over 1,600 grants to food service workers in Georgia. GK’s shift starts when theirs can’t. For more about Giving Kitchen, visit givingkitchen.org, follow @givingkitchen and download the GK app for iPhone and Android.

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 & Communications Director, at 908-748-4356 or aasch@stopitsolutions.com.

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Coweta Schools Adopt Program to Empower, Protect Students

jeff holmes superintendent

Coweta Public Schools has enrolled with STOPit, the leading technology platform for schools that deters and controls harmful or inappropriate conduct. The program launched locally on March 27.

School Superintendent Jeff Holmes said STOPit empowers students with an easy app to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials – from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving schools the insight they need to keep students safe.

“We are pleased to introduce STOPit to our school community as another tool to emphasize the importance of student safety,” Holmes said. “All of our students deserve a safe educational environment. Students at all eight school sites will be able to utilize this powerful tool.”

With STOPit, students can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos or video. Administrators are then able to manage incidents in a backend management system called STOPit Admin.

Holmes said STOPit Admin provides efficient and powerful investigative tools to staff, including the ability to message with the reporter, which will allow administrators to address issues instantly.

According to Holmes, STOPit does more than just help schools address incidents and mitigate risk. The program will also help districts go beyond reacting to bullying and inappropriate behavior, and instead start deterring it.

“As young people continue to engage more with technology every day, we are taking a proactive step to empower our students to become upstanders in our community in the way that they feel most comfortable,” Holmes noted. “We believe our adoption of STOPit is an important step in our continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for our students.”

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Frisco ISD Educators Accept Life Saver Award for Helping Virginia Student

frisco award group picture

Educators at Ashley Elementary were honored Monday by the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees and representatives from STOPit, the company FISD uses to provide online anonymous reporting for bullying and other school safety concerns.

Principal Kim Frankson, Assistant Principal Jess Johnson and Counselor Laurie Ortel were presented with the Helping Hands Life Saver Award, the first time STOPit has ever handed out the award.

The three educators were involved in assisting a suicidal student from Virginia using the STOPit mobile app. During the course of their conversation, the girl admitted to taking pills while home alone. Read more here.

“Without the quick action of the administrators in Frisco, our student would not have received the immediate mental health evaluation and treatment she required,” said Ryan Barber, director of student services in Waynesboro (Virginia) City Public Schools. “I am certain the outcome would have been different if it hadn’t been for the STOPit app and the administrators in Frisco. Our school division remains tremendously thankful for everyone who intervened on behalf of our student in crisis.”

STOPit President Parkhill Mays and Founder Todd Schobel traveled from New Jersey to personally present the awards in Frisco.

“We could not be more thrilled to give the Helping Hands Life Saver Award to the educators of Ashley Elementary,” Mays said. “They went above and beyond to ensure student safety and we feel honored that our tools and the team from STOPit Solutions helped them do just that.”

Also on hand for the recognition was Maurine Molak, mother of David Molak, the San Antonio teenager whose suicide inspired the 2017 Texas anti-bullying law known as David’s Law.

“This is the good that comes out of a tragedy and I just want to thank you so much for what you did,” Molak told the Ashley educators.

In 2018, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott featured Frisco ISD’s use of the STOPit mobile app in a report detailing efforts to enhance school safety across the state.

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Frisco Administrators Recognized for Saving Suicidal Student in Virginia

FRISCO, Texas — Three Frisco administrators from Ashley Elementary School have been credited with saving the life of a Virginia student who was suicidal and needed help. 

Frisco ISD told WFAA that the Virginia student had somehow communicated with the administrators through an anonymous reporting app called STOPit.

But before STOPit was even possible, Maurine Molak had to fight hard for David’s Law. David was her youngest son and 16 years old. His mother said he committed suicide after he was cyber-bullied.

“It’s a mom’s worst nightmare losing a child,” Molak said.

David’s Law gave schools the teeth to combat bullying. And that gave Todd Schobel the idea for an app called STOPit, where students can anonymously report issues like bullying.

“That’s what it does in deterring behaviors. People are thinking twice,” Schobel said.

Principal Kim Frankson, assistant principal Jess Johnson and counselor Laurie Ortel were honored Monday night with STOPit’s first-ever Lifesaver Medal.

“We said, ‘If we can save one child, it was all worth it,'” Molak said.

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3 Frisco Educators Honored For Helping Suicidal Student More Than 1,000 Miles Away

FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Three North Texas educators were honored Monday night for answering a long distance cry for help.

The message came via an app from a child contemplating suicide in Waynesboro, Virginia.

A message was sent and received nearly 1,200 miles away at a Frisco ISD elementary school.

Ashley Elementary School Principal Kim Frankson, Assistant Principal Jess Johnson and counselor Laurie Ortel will be the first to tell you, they don’t think of themselves as heroes, but others respectfully disagree.

They were in a meeting when they got a message through the STOPit app.

“It was the longest hour of our life,” said Johnson.

The app allows users to anonymously report bullying, hazing, or any other issues. Administrators can follow up through real time messaging and provide support.

STOPit messenger allows students to ask for help.

“When we first got it we didn’t recognize the name so it was really important to figure out who the child was and where she was at and get her the help immediately,” said Frankson.

They were able to call police and get help to that student in Virginia.

Monday evening, STOPit awarded its first ever Life Saver Awards to the Frisco trio.

STOPit has nearly 3,000,000 subscribers.

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Phone App Tip Leads to Prostitution Arrest

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. – A Flushing, NY woman has been arrested and charged with prostitution after police say she propositioned an undercover detective at a Route 206 massage parlor.

Police singled out the business after receiving a tip through the STOPit phone app, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson. He did not identify the specific location or the name of the business.

The undercover detective entered the massage parlor on March 27 and was met by Fu Yun Ju, 40, of Flushing, NY. She propositioned the detective for cash in exchange for sex, according to Robinson.

She was immediately arrested by other police officers, transported to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, processed and released on her own recognizance.

Prosecutor Robertson, Chief Fodor, and Chief Powell request anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force Unit at (908) 231-7100, or the Hillsborough Police Department (908) 369-4323, or via the STOPit app.

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is utilizing the STOPit app as a platform to allow concerned citizens to provide information about crimes occurring in Somerset County. This app is completely anonymous and users are able to “chat” in real time with law enforcement, as well as send images and videos about crime.

The app also has a Get Help section that provides phone numbers and links to important resources available in Somerset County. The STOPit app can be downloaded to your smartphone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: “SOMERSETNJ”. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or at www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

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KUSD Works to Ensure Safety of Students, Staff

Student safety is a top priority of the Kenosha Unified School District. For several years, the district has worked to ensure our students and staff are safe in our schools by implementing best practices to achieve this goal.

One area of focus has been the use of positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) to address behavior and bullying. This began with some schools launching the program individually, and grew to a districtwide initiative after a board-appointed committee researched best practices to avert bullying in schools.

PBIS is known and used by schools throughout the nation for its work in providing capacity for implementing a multi-tiered approach to social, emotional and behavioral support.

Along with PBIS, the committee presented recommended changes to the board regarding anti-bullying, harassment and hate policy 5111 in July 2014. Following the adoption of the changes, employees received training on how to educate students and families on the definition of bullying and all it entails.

The district also developed a process for investigating bullying and harassment complaints and how to properly document incidents.

In July 2015, administrators were trained in ALiCE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) to better prepare them to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter. The following year all staff were trained. Annual training continues for new staff and as a refresher for existing staff.

The district also created and implemented lesson plans for students that are reviewed annually. Student lessons begin in September and continue throughout the school year, with a safety drill taking place each quarter.

Additionally, trauma-sensitive training is another safety focus that addresses how to recognize behavior associated with trauma and how to address those behaviors. The staff has learned about the adverse childhood experiences and how they can affect students, and KUSD is now expanding trauma training to include courses on youth mental health first aid and trauma-informed schools practices.

In 2018, KUSD applied for two safety grants and received more than $2 million in funding to support safety upgrades. One of the requirements of the grant was to conduct a school safety assessment of all schools, which was accomplished by the facilities department in partnership with our school resource officers. The results of the assessments have been shared with building leaders to ensure all safety practices are implemented as required.

In February 2019, teams of district administrators and counselors, along with representatives from the Kenosha Police Department, Pleasant Prairie Police Department, Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office, Kenosha Human Services and others were trained on threat assessment and have begun the implementation process in partnership with our community partners.

Schools also were trained on the STOPit app, which is an anonymous tip line students can use to report cases of bullying, threats to schools, threats to other students or threats to harm themselves. These reports are sent directly to school staff for investigation.

Lastly, we also conducted a student and parent/guardian survey this year to help address issues that students and/or families feel are important and may need more attention. The results are being compiled and will be provided to principals within the next few weeks.

Overall, KUSD continues to research and implement best practices in an effort to keep our students and staff safe and comfortable in their learning environment. It is a top priority to provide an environment conducive to learning in order to achieve our goal of preparing students for success.

Sue Valeri is chief of school leadership for the Kenosha Unified School District.

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