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.