Is Your Phone Summer Ready? It’s Time to Start Summer Hours for Your Mobile Device!

For millions of American workers, Memorial Day weekend not only ushered in the unofficial start of summer, but the official start of summer hours. According to the Washington Post, around 40 percent of American companies now offer some version of the summer Friday perk to keep power charges low and recharge workers’ mental batteries.

So how about setting summer hours for our mobile device use? If you’re like most Americans, you can use it.

A mounting body of research shows cell phone addiction is a pervasive problem that’s deteriorating our health in numerous ways – anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, even wrist and hand pains. We know we’re on them too much, yet we do it anyway.

Dr. Jenna Meyerberg, PhD, LPC, an authority on youth social and emotional development, has written extensively about how living in an age of instant communication and nearly unlimited access to information is having a significant, negative impact on people. STOPit Solutions recently had an opportunity to sit with Dr. Meyerberg and talk about electronics addiction on the STOPit Solutions Podcast. In addition to providing helpful suggestions for encouraging everyone to unplug and being more present in real life (aka “IRL”), she shares  evidence-based research proving that people who are more disciplined in their online habits have higher self-esteem and confidence than their tech-obsessed peers.

These statistics and trends may feel oppressive, but the fact is that we DO have control over our own behavior and there’s no better time for a break than now. The beaches are open, the sun is out until 8:30 at night, and the warm breeze smells like flowers, the neighbor’s barbecue and freshly cut grass. Go out and enjoy it! Read on for a few simple ways we can institute summer hours for our phones and tablets.

 

Make a Plan and Apply It

A good way to start is to diagnose the ailment and set your cure. Both Apple and Google now have apps (Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing, respectively) that can tell you how much time you’re spending on your devices, with breakdowns by specific apps and categories.

Those who haven’t checked their stats before may be in for a shock. Studies have suggested that Americans check their phones once every 12 minutes – or roughly 80 times per day – and spend about four hours on them daily. Thankfully, Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing can be programmed to enforce time limits for your apps and lock them if you’ve crossed the line.

Take a look at your averages, come up with realistic goals for curbing your time and use these apps to hold you to them. Can you cut your app use by an hour per day? Two? Take the challenge!

No-Go Times

The dinner table used to be a family’s impenetrable bubble from the world. Kids told mom and dad what they learned in school and there were no interruptions allowed from the TV or ringing phones. Now everyone at the table is glued to Twitter and video games while they chew.

We can all make a meaningful dent in our gadget use by declaring them off-limits at times when good manners dictate they should be off anyway. Set a rule that they’re not allowed in the same room as the dinner table. Apply the same standards to times that are meant to be about family and friends – summer vacation trips, graduation parties, the annual golf outing. You can never get those moments back.

And if you’re out for a meal with friends, encourage everyone to pile them in the center of the table with the sound off. First person to give in picks up the check!

Be a Cellular Role Model

If you want to make summer hours stick with your kids, do as you say and say as you do. Like just about anything with parenting, it’s easy to dictate a bunch of rules and quite another thing to enforce them. If you lecture your kids about a bad behavior and then model it in front of them, they won’t take the lesson seriously or follow it.

If you lay down a “no Kindle before summer camp” rule, don’t let them see you glued to Facebook over your morning coffee. Show them it can be done.

Think about ways you can make summer hours a family affair. If everyone in your house is a part of the challenge, you can hold each other accountable and set up fun prizes for those who reach their goals.

And who knows — once summer hours are over and schools are back in session, maybe some of these healthy, new habits will stick. To paraphrase an old saying, “An app less per day keeps the doctor away.”

Into Action

Download our tip sheet and hang it on the refrigerator and home and work — or pass it along to a friend who you can recruit to take the challenge with you.

For extra satisfaction, write down what you did during the hour (or two) you reclaimed each day. Did you get an extra hour of sleep? Take the time to cook your favorite meal? Walk the dog on a new trail or have that family movie night you keep talking about? Let’s work together to live healthier, happier lives — right now! 

WeTip Anonymous Reporting Empowers Citizens to Thwart Welfare Fraud

Image courtesy of GotCredit on Flickr

As citizens of the wealthiest nation on earth, Americans are committed to providing a social safety net for friends, neighbors and even strangers who are going through tough times. But they have little patience for people who take advantage of their generosity, and those who cross that line risk paying a price.

Dating back to the legislative initiatives of the New Deal and the Great Society, America has had a suite of welfare programs in place, from unemployment insurance to food stamps, to help people meet their basic needs. Although the screening process for this aid is rigorous, a small percentage of cheaters do manage to game the system. Those who are caught often make the wrong kind of headlines, fueling outrage that places political support for the programs – and the honest taxpayers who rely on them – in jeopardy.

It’s impossible to say how widespread welfare fraud really is in the U.S. Studies have pegged the percentage of recipients cheating by one means or another as low as the low single digits to as high as one-third to half. What no one disputes, though, is that rooting out cheaters is costly and difficult.

The manpower required to monitor welfare is expensive and staffing levels are stretched too thin to put every application under a microscope. As a result, states are increasingly turning to taxpayers to help police the system with anonymous tip lines.

STOPit’s partner WeTip is an industry leader in welfare fraud reporting, having served the nation with anonymous tip programs for nearly 50 years. Since 2006, WeTip has received over 29,000 anonymous tips regarding welfare fraud, leading to thousands of convictions, according to company CEO Sue Aguilar. In Los Angeles County alone, the WeTip Welfare Fraud Program thwarted hundreds of scams in its first five years, saving taxpayers over $18 million, she said.

“More people than ever are reaching out and turning in someone they suspect of welfare fraud,” Aguilar said. “The WeTip Program is successfully attacking welfare fraud one case at a time.”

All allegations are assigned to a special investigations unit to assess their veracity. Those who are found to be in violation can face penalties from mandatory restitution payments to jail time. Often, citizens reaching out to report fraud will share other information of interest to law enforcement.

One key to WeTips success is that their operators are trained to route tips appropriately and send to associated agencies when needed. A fraud call may uncover other issues in the community as these fraud cases can be complex. “Many, many times, the WeTip informant will give additional information regarding child and elder abuse. Those tips are also relayed to child and adult protective services,” Aguilar said.

For information on implementing an anonymous welfare fraud reporting program in your community, call WeTip at (909) 987-5005 ext. 230. Live operators staff the phones 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. WeTip has no taping, tracing or caller ID. Contact WeTip if your community or service would like to add a tip line.

Safe and Sound: Hospitality and Travel Industries Empowering Employees

At hotels across the world, the front desk clerk asks questions to make sure that their guests’ stay is up to par. And on flights that crisscross the sky, the flight attendant walks around the cabin making small talk to make sure everyone on the flight is comfortable. But these dedicated staff are not just providing excellent customer service. The reality is that these hospitality and travel industry employees are on the front lines of ensuring public safety. And with the right questions, these well-trained staff members might uncover information that is anything but routine.

Through new programs and initiatives, airlines and hotels are taking proactive security measures and giving their employees the tools and training to help identify and report safety issues. By training staff to recognize and report suspicious behaviors and activity to the appropriate authorities, travel and hospitality companies can help make a difference in the communities they serve and possibly save lives. Utilizing mobile reporting options like the STOPit mobile app is one way that hospitality industry leaders can begin making this important difference in the lives of their employees and guests.

Law Enforcement Partners

When law enforcement knows that hotel and travel companies are their partners on public safety issues, a collaborative and productive relationship can grow. That relationship improves the community and helps victims–and limits liability for hospitality industry employees, owners, and brands.

Protecting guests and employees can also help protect–and even strengthen–a business’ reputation. By teaching staff how to identify and report issues, businesses can identify warning signals, mitigate risk, and even deter crime. It’s not just due diligence: ensuring that staff across all fronts are trained to identify and report key indicators is critical for success. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there need to be different instructions for different roles since the signs a front desk clerk needs to be alert of may be different from that of a housekeeper or a parking lot attendant. Homeland Security offers a training toolkit available in both English and Spanish.

Employee Safety

In September 2018, in a show of unity in the competitive hotelier industry, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, IHG, Marriott International, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) announced the 5-Star Promise, their commitment to advancing employee and guest safety on their properties. AHLA members have committed to implementing better policies, training, and resources aimed at improving hotel worker and guest safety. One of the key goals of the 5-Star Promise is to provide all U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices, also called portable panic buttons, by 2020. Participating hotels will have a wide range of options to choose from, including noise-emitting features and emergency GPS tracking available at the push of a button.

Tackling Human Trafficking

Assuring guest privacy is an important priority for the hospitality and travel industries. But human traffickers can take advantage of that privacy, especially when staff are not trained to recognize and report the signs of exploitation. And while high-profile events like next month’s Super Bowl can create a climate that traffickers exploit according to anti-trafficking organizations, the reality is that human trafficking is an everyday problem.

But experts say progress is being made, especially with help from hospitality industry leaders. As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, many companies have made new commitments to combat human trafficking.

Last year Delta Air Lines launched a human trafficking training initiative for the airlines’ employees. Now 56,000 of those employees have been trained to watch for signs of human trafficking on flights or in airports around the world, and how to report concerns to the Delta operations center. The center then passes the information on, ensuring that there are multiple layers of checks and balances in the process.

And as part of their global commitment to safety and human rights, Marriott International launched its human trafficking awareness training program in January 2017. Marriott announced earlier this month that it has successfully trained 500,000 staff members on how to identify and respond to human trafficking in its hotels.

“By educating and empowering our global workforce to say something if they see something, we are not just standing up for the most vulnerable in society, we are also protecting associates and guests as well as living up to a core company value — serving our world,” Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International said in a statement.

Every employee in the hospitality industry can make a difference: the more hotel and travel companies become involved in training their staff to identify and respond to safety concerns, the harder it will be for crime to go unnoticed and unreported.

The STOPit mobile app is a simple, fast and powerful tool that empowers individuals to protect themselves and others. The platform also includes a robust incident management system, which enables administrators and management to get in front of issues, mitigate risk, and adhere to the always changing world of compliance.

Human Trafficking Knows No Boundaries, From Suburbia To The Inner City, The Problem is Growing but You Can Help

For many, the term “human trafficking” conjures images of ‘someone else’s’ neighborhood, where extreme poverty and violence are rampant and human rights are devalued, or ignored outright. But, as the FBI notes, the third-largest criminal activity in the world knows no boundaries and no demographic restrictions.

“Human trafficking is referred to as a crime that’s hidden in plain sight,” said Jamie Walton, president of the Wayne Foundation, an advocacy and crisis help organization for female victims of human trafficking that operates a nonprofit drop-in shelter in Florida. “It’s not just one type of human trafficking, and it’s not just happening in big cities. It’s happening everywhere.”

Especially in the digital age. The Internet has become a pipeline for predators to coerce, fraud and/or force young people into sex trades and labor arrangements that are tantamount to slavery. In America, it often starts when a vulnerable teen meets a ‘friend’ in a chat room. This ‘friend’ may come off charming and dangle something that’s financially out of reach – access to a nice house, fancy cars, drugs. Other times, they promise to fill a void in the youth’s life through something as simple as companionship. These online ‘relationships’ too often lead to the young person become victimized in real life.

Human Trafficking May Be Pervasive, But Public Awareness and Action Are Making A Difference

Federal data collected through a national reporting hotline offers valuable insight into the scope of the problem in the U.S. This data reveals:

  • The crisis is growing. In 2017, there were 8,524 reports of human trafficking. This number has increased each year since 2012, when there were 3,272 reports.
  • Victims are predominantly female (7,067) but include significant numbers of males (1,124) and gender minorities (80). Roughly 30 percent (2,495) were minors.
  • Sex trafficking was by far the most common type reported (6,081), followed by labor (1,249) and various other forms (1,194). The top venues for sex trafficking were illicit massage/spa businesses (714), hotel/motel-based (613) and online ads (519).

In fact, Walton says the majority of children are being trafficked while parents are away on vacation, away on business trips — even between getting out of school and parents getting home from an ordinary work day.

“Kidnapping is a real threat, but it’s not always this worst case scenario we need to pay attention to,” said Walton. “Too often, these children are being trafficked right in their own neighborhoods and they’re too scared and ashamed to ask for help. Local law enforcement is better trained and better equipped than ever to handle these cases, but they can be even more effective if we, ordinary citizens, are working with them to help identify threats and if we report them.”

Citizen Action Matters: Teaming Up With Law Enforcement to Stop Human Trafficking in Your Town

If you believe someone you know or have encountered could be a victim of human trafficking, it is critical that you alert the authorities right away.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides support for US citizens who are witnesses to — or victims of — human trafficking. The agency funds the National Human Trafficking Hotline, where people can reach out for help or report their suspicions about human trafficking activity 356 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Additionally, anonymous reporting options like the STOPit mobile app or WeTip both offer a safe, easy way to share information that could save lives and restore young people to their homes. Communities across the US are subscribing to these services as a way for citizens to report incidents to law enforcement. With both of these tools, the person reporting is also kept safe through guaranteed anonymity.

In more and more neighborhoods across the country, citizens, like those who brought STOPit to their Bloomfield, New Mexico community, are successfully working with law enforcement and public safety officers to stop crime and provide valuable assistance to help make victims whole.

“The best thing people can do is reach out — to report suspicious activity and protect someone you know, or to ask for help if you’re the victim,” Walton said. “We are working with our community law enforcement agencies every single day to more quickly identify these cases and take positive action to stop trafficking and get victims the help they need.”

For more information about how public safety officials and citizens in local communities are using anonymous reporting to increase safety and security in their neighborhoods, call now and speak with one of our experts in community safety.

Help for Victims of Trafficking

In light of the significant domestic threat, the US has proclaimed each January since 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the Department of Homeland Security sponsors its Blue Campaign, which offers training to law enforcement and key industries to increase detection of human trafficking, protect victims and bring suspected traffickers to justice.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides assistance to victims in crisis through safety planning, emotional support, and connections to local resources. Calls are confidential, toll-free and available 24/7.
CALL: (888) 373-7888
TEXT: HELP to BEFREE (233733)
EMAIL: help@humantraffickinghotline.org
ONLINE: www.humantraffickinghotline.org

Indicators of Human Trafficking

The following are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Goodwill and Peace of Mind in New Mexico: How Public Safety Leaders Partnered with Citizens to Give The Gift of a Safer Community

This holiday season, Bloomfield, New Mexico is proving why it’s known as “the little city with a big heart.”

Home to nearly 8,000 people, Bloomfield has long been admired for its rich history and community spirit. Considered the heart of the four corners and gateway to the internationally recognized Quality Waters just below Navajo Dam, it’s also a destination for people who want to visit its national treasures, including Mesa Verde National Park, Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins, and Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

And, true to its character, its residents and public servants also have a notable history of being proactive when it comes to identifying and implementing innovative, pragmatic solutions to promote the health and welfare of the people who live and work within its city limits.

So it’s no surprise that Bloomfield is one of the first municipalities in New Mexico to adopt mobile technology as part of a strategy to safeguard its residents and businesses.

No Time Like the Present

Then

It was a typical evening in August, warm and dry, but this was no typical meeting of the Bloomfield, NM Neighborhood Watch. Packed into the meeting room, residents and business owners gathered to talk about something they’d been waiting for for a long time — a restart to the Neighborhood Watch program.

Of all the things that distinguish Bloomfield, the city certainly is not remarkable for a higher-than-average crime rate — but citizens weren’t content to sit back and ‘hope for the best’ going forward. They and their public safety officials were determined to be proactive and take positive steps to promote even greater security and safety.

That evening, in addition to the traditional, tried and true tactics of citizen watch programs, Interim Chief Randon Matthews introduced a brand new tool for those in attendance to consider; a mobile reporting app — available right on their phones — giving everyone the power to report suspicious activity, capture photographic and video evidence if possible, and send it directly to their district officer representative for immediate action. And the best part — citizens could remain completely anonymous if they chose to, making it safe to report and easy to be involved.

When the demo wrapped up, the energy and excitement was palpable — nearly everyone agreed that Bloomfield needed this tool — and sooner than later.

So, rather than wait and advocate for the cost of launching the reporting app to be added into the next budget, two residents, Debbi Vavra and Lisa Webb of Guild Mortgage, offered to underwrite the immediate purchase of the tool.

STOPit was rolled out in a soft-launch to Bloomfield residents later that month.

Now

Since officially launching STOPit in October, Bloomfield has already started seeing impressive results.

In addition to a foiled kidnapping, the recovery and return of multiple stolen cars, as well as several high-profile felony arrests for drug related offenses — citizens are using the STOPit app every day to help their law enforcement partners to stop crime and help preserve law and order.

Citizens are excited that they have such a powerful tool to connect with their neighborhood law enforcement partners. When someone sees an issue — anything from a suspicious person, to suspected animal abuse — they can easily, safely gather evidence and anonymously share that information with police to help confront and address threats.

Another significant benefit of the reporting app is that law enforcement is feeling more and more connected with those they serve — and trusted. They’re reporting text conversations with people on the other end that show citizens appreciate knowing that they’re getting real-time responses from the police department. The community is excited to be able to assist police officers.

A Two Way Street: Communication Helps People Be Vigilant and Stay Safe

At about the same time Bloomfield began investigating options for providing an anonymous reporting tool to empower their community, the Little City With a Big Heart, also re-dedicated itself to build a robust social media presence. “Our Interim Chief, Randon Matthews, feels strongly that an active, proactive social media presence is an important part of the conversation we need to be sharing with our residents, business owners and wider community,” said Suzanne Moore, Administrative Supervisor for the Bloomfield New Mexico Police Department. “One of the many things we love about the STOPit app is that it allows us to reach out to our residents and community with tips and alerts to help us all stay better connected and safer. This is a great complement to our social media campaigns.”

Visit them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you’ll see plenty of positive messages, like the one to “Remember your #9pmroutine,” — messages that promote public safety and remind us of good, old common sense ways to keep ourselves and our neighborhoods strong and safe.

“Especially during the winter holidays, we are more likely let the stresses of the season distract us from our usual vigilance — giving would-be thieves and other bad actors more opportunity to do damage and inflict harm,” cautions Moore.

Follow these tips from the Bloomfield PD to enjoy a safer, happier holiday season.

For information about bringing the STOPit Solution to your community, call now and speak with one of our public safety solutions experts.

10 Reasons Why You Should Support WeTip, the Crime Stopping, Anonymous Tip Service This Holiday Season

The holiday season is an emotional time for many of us, with to-do lists a mile long, and a cascade of different calls to action: Have a happy holiday! Give them them the gifts they’ll cherish! Make memories to last a lifetime! Give generously and help share peace and goodwill for all!

Yes, to all of these. As far as that last encouragement, when you’re considering your list of worthwhile causes to celebrate with a special gift, please keep WeTip at the top of that list.

WeTip: 47 Years of Unrivaled Service to Help Us Create Safer Communities

WeTip is one of the best resources in America for regular citizens to prevent and report crime. It is a toll-free, nationwide, 24/7/365 anonymous hotline and website committed to providing the most effective crime alerting system in the nation.

Once the caller has been assured anonymity, the operator takes them through a series of up to 65 questions, developed through the aid of law enforcement to elicit as much information as possible. Oftentimes the caller has more helpful information than they even realize. WeTip has become an essential service for crime-stoppers and a vital resource for law enforcement.

Founded in 1972 by a retired San Bernadino county sheriff who envisioned a better way for everyday citizens to report crimes, he understood the value of a service that was truly anonymous. Now 46 years later, boasting over 1,336,138 crimes reported, 16,391 arrests, a phenomenal 8,396 convictions, and NOT ONE informant ever revealed – the success and longevity of WeTip is proof that when good people are brave, motivated, and get involved, they can make a difference!

While completely independent from the police, WeTip has become an invaluable source of intelligence and information to local, regional, national, and even international law enforcement. They relay all tip information to every appropriate agency that may be able to help with a crime; whether that be the local area precinct detectives, Department of Child and Family Services, housing authorities, school administrators, corporations, animal protection, forest service, private agencies, or whatever the individual situation calls for. They don’t rest until the situation is being investigated from every angle, and taken seriously. This tremendously successful program has dramatically impacted unsolved crimes, and has significantly reduced crime incidents in communities and schools nationwide.

Here are 10 Reasons Why Your Donation to WeTip Matters.

    1. WeTip is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has relied on donations from people like you to keep their hotline running for over 46 years–and the results are astounding. More than ONE MILLION crimes have been reported resulting in nearly 9,000 convictions — that’s how citizen-supported, citizen action works.But while WeTip is a nationwide service, they receive no federal funding. You can donate with confidence knowing that your funds are not being handled by a middle man, but all support goes directly into this secure, established resource that is protecting communities, children, the elderly, animals, and the environment.
    2. In 2007, WeTip updated its service to include taking anonymous tips online in addition to the telephone hotline. The online method of reporting has been extremely effective, but is an additional expense of equipment and utilities. Your donation will help cover those bills.
    3. Your donation directly impacts America’s youth: WeTip is combating bullying and terror on the front lines in our schools. This year alone, WeTip has received over 90 reports of bullying, and aided in the prevention of school attacks. When school districts partner with WeTip, it does more than just empower individuals with information to speak up – it is also a powerful deterrent. It causes someone to think twice before engaging in unacceptable conduct. In fact, schools that use WeTip find that the service discourages harmful or inappropriate behavior from happening in the first place. The deterrent factor resulted in a decrease in crime in one of WeTip’s school districts by an astounding 90%.
Tips Received To Date
  1. Animals cannot speak up when they are being neglected, hoarded or abused, so thankfully WeTip is ready to answer the call when a good samaritan blows the whistle on a situation where animals are being harmed. WeTip works closely with the appropriate rescue organizations to get the animals to safety and hold the abusers accountable. Animal lovers nationwide understand how important this work is, and every donation helps save these innocent lives.
  2. One of the areas that WeTip has been the most successful is the war on drugs. Approximately 75% of the tips the hotline receives are drug related. Over $340,000,000 in drugs and $6,875,000 in cash has been seized because of WeTip information, and they have intervened in countless threatening and dangerous situations.The numbers show the impressive impact the WeTip solution is having on breaking down the dangerous code of silence. The dramatic increases in the number of tips received each year demonstrates the change in culture and attitudes about reporting unsafe behaviors and situations. Donating to this important work directly affects communities in need, and innocent children who are exposed to this culture.
  3. The best technology for the best results: WeTip leverages mission-critical tech tools to deliver results and stay effective. WeTip’s success as a national resource depends on the ability to be available 24/7 – 356 days a year and to deliver on its promise of anonymity when citizens do report crime tips. For 47 years, WeTip has devoted a significant share of its resources to its tipline and reporting systems.In 2019, the number one operational need is an upgrade to their digital infrastructure.This upgrade will insure that individuals and communities continue to have access to this invaluable service while delivering on WeTip’s promise of anonymity for tipsters.

    ANONYMOUS: And this is important — WeTip is truly anonymous, not just “confidential”. What’s the difference? Confidential means that someone knows your name and promises not to tell, until they are subpoenaed. Anonymous means that nobody knows who you are and there is absolutely no way to find out. WeTip has no taping, tracing or caller ID. They have no way of knowing who the caller is.

  4. There are rewards for getting involved and doing the right thing. Every tipster is offered the opportunity to receive a reward up to $1000 (with some higher rewards offered in specific instances) for information leading to arrest and conviction. These rewards are paid through WeTip’s anonymous and unique reward payment system.This is the only program of its kind in the nation, and honors the fact that though many people will choose to remain anonymous for their own reasons, when people can and do come forward, they deserve recognition for taking positive action. In fact, the rewards program is extremely effective in encouraging otherwise hesitant folks to make that call, and the rewards — more than $1M and counting — are only made possible by donated funds.
  5. WeTip has specialized Native American Reservations Services, offering a safe, highly valued opportunity for members of these communities to protect themselves and others from devastating crime and victimization. Services include: education regarding Tribal security, school security, community health, and the dangers involved in drug and gang activity; domestic violence; drug endangered children; threats and actual violence; property destruction; elder abuse; truancy and underage drinking. WeTip is also utilized by visitors to reservation casinos who have information about illegal activities like fraud, robbery, burglary, malicious mischief, threats, violence and drug activity. Your donation will help WeTip provide brochures, stickers, flyers, posters, magnets and parking lot signs, all designed to maintain a visual presence of the hotline phone number.
  6. Knowledge is power. WeTip is only helping if people know to use it. Your donation to WeTip not only helps to keep their day-to-day operations possible, but it also helps with the communications, public relations and marketing efforts — all necessary to increase public awareness of the hotline and ensure that everyone who needs WeTip knows about WeTIp, and how to take safe, positive action against criminals and other threats to health and wellbeing.
  7. A donation to WeTip is a gift that keeps on giving all year round, especially if your gift is in memory of someone special.During this holiday season, often times those feelings of peace and goodwill are lost among the pressures of buying material presents.

This year, consider a gift that is guaranteed to make a difference now and into the future. And if you have a loved on that has been affected or lost because of unsolved crime and violence, a gift in their honor is a lasting tribute to their memory and a hopeful action taken in their name for a better future.

Please join us today and help us create safer communities across the US.

You can help and make a difference by donating, and by spreading awareness about this valuable service to friends and family. One call can make a difference and may save a life, solve a cold case, or prevent a crime from happening in the first place.

We live in an era where we no longer have the luxury of looking the other way, or expecting someone else to be responsible and do the right thing, so “If you see something, say something” by calling WeTip’s Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME.

WeTip has been making a difference for 46 years, and with your help, will continue to grow and serve even more communities.

Make your donation online. For more information about the impact of citizen action through WeTip, visit the website.

Modern Policing Uses Tech Tools To Catch Tech Savvy Child Predators

There are times when a popular technology advances too fast for the legal system to keep up. It happened a few years ago when sales of remote-control drones raised privacy concerns and posed deadly hazards for aircraft. More recently, lawmakers and transportation authorities have struggled to cope with the introduction of self-driving cars on our roadways.

In 1997, it was America Online. According to the U.S. Census, only 18 percent of American households had Internet access that year, but the number was rising at an explosive pace. At the dawn of the Internet age, AOL dominated the U.S. market. It didn’t just offer Internet plans and email accounts, it offered an experience – fun games, online chat rooms and the revolutionary Instant Messenger app.

The appeal was largely generational. Young Americans embraced their new electronic communication options and spurned traditional hand-written letters and phone calls. Many parents initially shied away from the change and ceded cyberspace to the kids.

Unfortunately, child predators didn’t do the same. Where predatory behavior once seemed like a rarity – cases like the disappearances of Adam Walsh in 1981 and Etan Patz, the original milk carton portrait, in 1979 captivated the nation — the Internet made it a widespread crisis overnight. The formerly ultra-high risk process of trying to build trust with victims over time at the park or follow them around the neighborhood in a van, was no longer necessary. Predators could now simultaneously carry on conversations with dozens of kids in the safe confines of their homes, all while pretending to be someone else.

Rich Wistocki knows all too well. As a detective in the Naperville (Illinois) Police Department just outside of Chicago, he recalled his first Internet sex crime case in 1997. A 14-year-old girl was contacted through AOL by a man from Tennessee. He drove up north and abducted her from her home.

For a suburban police department with little experience dealing with cyber crimes, the case raised complicated questions. How do you find someone when all you have to go on is a bogus screen name? How does a local police department pursue a suspect who could be living anywhere in the country?

They devised a plan that turned to technology to combat the technology.

“My partner Mike Sullivan, who was formerly of the [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration], suggested taking over her account and posing as her, like a drug case,” Wistocki recalled. “The guy did it again, and a month later they arrested him.”

The Struggle to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Now retired from police work, Wistocki is the owner of Be Sure Consulting, which trains law enforcement, educators and students to respond to cyber threats. He has also been an effective advocate in the legal war against cybercrimes, having authored Illinois’ anti-teen sexting law and sexual exploitation of a child law.

Sadly, Wistocki’s career didn’t coincide with a decline in cyber crimes against children. As technology became more sophisticated, so did predators. Today, we have more reason than ever to be vigilant, and work to employ better solutions to this very serious threat faced by every child with access to the internet. Recent studies reveal that:

  • An estimated 39 million American adults and 3 million children have been victims of sexual abuse.
  • Nearly 70 percent of all reported sexual assaults occur against children ages 17 and under.
  • Approximately 1 in 7 youth Internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations. One in 25 received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
  • Survivors of sexual abuse are 10 to 13 times more likely to attempt suicide.

Although police have come a long way in investigating cyber crimes, Wistocki says they are sometimes held back by a reflexive resistance to changing protocols and sharing information. Local departments also suffer from a lack of resources to handle online crimes.

“Computers, flip phones, smart phones, apps — law enforcement is typically about 10 years behind new technology when it comes to training how to tackle the problems,” he said. “There’s no budget to train cops. … Law enforcement needs to catch up.”

The issue is sometimes exposed in delicate cases like when a teenage girl’s revealing selfie winds up in the wrong hands and gets forwarded around to humiliate the victim. Local authorities are often hobbled by outdated protocols such as referring the report to a state or federal agency, or, because of a lack of a clear timeline and other corroborating evidence, feel compelled to let the case drop.

Once again, Wistocki is turning to technology as part of the solution. At a recent conference, he was introduced to the STOPit anonymous reporting app and saw its promise for opening the lines of communication with a famously difficult group to reach — students. Since then, he has helped spread the word to school resource officers at universities and K-12 districts.

Once STOPit takes root, it can be a pipeline of information from young people who might otherwise feel too embarrassed or scared to approach school personnel in person. While anonymous reports don’t always solve a case or even pan out, they are a piece of information that can be considered and investigated like any other, and perhaps turn a cold case warm.

More Resources

The following are additional resources with information about keeping children safe online:

Find out more about how STOPit solutions can help reduce risk, discourage bad behavior and provide evidence to help catch those who act abusively. Click below to contact us and find out more.

Four Reasons To Love The New STOPit Admin Experience for Incident Management

Part 2 of 2 in a series on the STOPit 2018 Platform Update

Read Part 1

STOPit Solutions recently announced the launch of STOPit Admin, and users of the nation’s most popular anonymous reporting & management platform are already weighing in with their approval.

Formerly known as DOCUMENTit, STOPit Admin is an enhanced version of the comprehensive, streamlined, cloud-based incident management system enabling organization administrators to manage incidents submitted via the STOPit mobile app. Like the new version of the app, STOPit developers updated the user experience to capitalize on the most successful, most widely adopted features of the digital user experience today. STOPit Admin also deploys new, robust information sharing, analytics, and reporting features — part of the company’s commitment to continuously improve the entire user experience.

Easy-To-Use and Secure Incident Management

“It’s another tool for us to interact with our students in a manner which otherwise they probably would not. If we can help one child, that otherwise would not be helped– then why not do that. That’s our role. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” said Michael Coleman, a recently launched customer of the platform.

As with the reporting app, feedback from users and focus groups played an important role in the evolution of the platform.

“Our goal in refreshing the incident management platform was to make sure administrators continue to have the best, easiest to learn and easiest use incident management system available,” says Teresa Reuter, STOPit’s Director of Customer Success. “STOPit Admin delivers on that goal by empowering clients to be exceptionally effective, giving them more control over their ability to prioritize their time and attention.”

Here are a few highlights of what’s new with STOPit Admin:

  1. New Home screen: The attractive, easy to read layout is updated to include a section for administrators to broadcast organization-specific content that’s most relevant to their community. Whether the information being shared is targeted to the entire community or to a distinct group of people within the community, articles and announcements are shared based on knowledge of the prevailing challenges and opportunities at that organization.
  2. Updated Incident Report Snapshot area: Integrated into the Home screen, the Snapshot section for new and active incident reports includes an automatic pop up window highlighting new messages, saving administrators even more time and allowing them more control to set priorities.
  3. New Stats Snapshot feature: With more information, organized and available without running a full report, this section gives admins an at-a-glance look at the number of activations (users who download the app) and incident status information updates. Admins with monitoring and reporting responsibility use this option for a quick, accurate read on key information to share with other admins and supervisors at a moment’s notice.
    As always, detailed reporting is a key function of STOPit Admin, and robust reporting is available in the included Reports section.
  4. Updated Incident screen: Designed to mirror the ‘Inbox’ experience perfected by email clients, this screen now autofills the incident description. Tabs and other options on this screen are organized to make it even easier to manage user-facing as well as admin-facing tasks and messages.

Making the Switch to STOPit Admin

Users who loved DOCUMENTit’s functionality will delight to find there’s absolutely no learning curve for STOPit Admin. If you were adding incidents, and escalating or resolving incidents in DOCUMENTit, you know how to do it in STOPit Admin. As always, improvements to the STOPit platform make the entire experience easier, while delivering the same, superior results customers expect.

And for organizations who are using STOPit’s popular IMS Service which provides monitoring and and escalation services 24/7, the new interface makes it even easier for the first-line auditors to review each incident, determine the nature and priority of the report and take the right next steps. Whether that next step is to escalate actionable reports to an internal or external administrator — or not — those first-responders are getting anonymous incident reports in the most streamlined, integrated format available.

Find out more about how STOPit solutions can help your school, your workplace and your community reduce risk, discourage bad behavior and provide evidence to help catch those who act abusively.

Click below to contact us and find out more.

A New Design for A Powerful Mobile Reporting App That Successfully Fights Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying and Other Harmful Behaviors

Part 1 of 2 in a series on the STOPit 2018 Platform Update

Read Part 2

Over 3,000 schools, a growing number of municipalities and more than 100 businesses are using the STOPit app to empower individuals to stand up to harassment, bullying and other forms of intimidation or harmful behavior. For hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and internationally, STOPit is providing people with the power to safely, anonymously report abuse and to seek help — putting the solution, literally, in the palm of their hands.

And this year, users got a major upgrade.

The development team at STOPit solicited feedback from a diverse group of users, including youth, school administrators, and educators, employees working in healthcare, hospitality and other businesses, as well as public safety and law enforcement users, to improve to the look and ‘feel’ of the most popular mobile reporting tool available. Focus groups helped with UX (user experience) choices, and feedback from hundreds of human resource and compliance administrators provided clear examples about what they liked most about the app, giving the development team a good place to start building the next version.

“The app is a tremendous resource and we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the way the kids in our school think about bullying and helping each other. I was happy to share feedback that is helping to make the app even better.” Said Larry, recent grad of Wall High School in NJ — a STOPit customer.

No other solution in the marketplace is so focused on their users, and ensuring a simple, fast and powerful experience.

Choose STOPit and Change for the Better

All updates to the app and to the STOPit Admin incident management software are focused on continually improving the user experience. In fact, with this latest upgrade, the app has evolved from an effective, powerful reporting tool into one that also provides information and support to help users feel safer, better connected and better informed, 24/7.

New features enable a more robust and customizable library of information resources including articles and crisis/help lines, social and emotional learning articles, and research articles focused on specific interests including professional topics and challenges. Updates to the new Thank You screen provide clear, positive feedback when people file a report.

“This upgraded mobile app presents options in a clean, intuitive format that leverages the best UX of other popular and successful digital experiences,” said Teresa Reuter, STOPit’s Director of Customer Success. “And the easier it is to use, the more people will use it to improve safety at their school or organization and challenge harassment of themselves and their coworkers, neighbors or classmates.”

In addition to the updated UX features, users will also get:

  1. Simplified activation process: The upgraded app provides options for making it even easier to login and report while still delivering the best in security and anonymity to users. Users put in a one-time, district, company or community access code and simply choose their location from a drop-down menu, or, they can skip entering an access code entirely and scan a QR code from any of the launch materials STOPit prepares for each client.
  2. Broadcast: The Notification function is updated as well, offering organizations the option to load in specific content, such as relevant educational information, in addition to broadcasting important announcements and opportunities. Content choices are chosen by each organization to best serve their own, particular culture and communications needs.
  3. Get Help: This button has been moved to a more prominent location in the bottom menu. Organizations upload their own resources, such as national and local helplines.
  4. Activity Screen: It’s been transformed with an even more powerful, easy to use design. The new ‘inbox’ feel makes it easier to check reports and log information. Users now update information for a specific incident, adding more evidence, or clarifying details in the original report. Anonymous communication about the incident and follow up is as easy and secure as ever.

What’s in a Name? For STOPit Admin — Everything.

In addition to the mobile app update, STOPit also launched a transformation of DOCUMENTit, the company’s comprehensive, streamlined, cloud-based incident management system, renamed STOPit Admin.

STOPit Admin deploys an even better, more intuitive user interface, and has even more robust information features and streamlined reporting and analytics dashboards to make the admin role even easier and more time effective. “We can’t be more excited about this,” Reuter said, “and clients are delighted by the improvements — especially by how easy it is to leverage their current knowledge of how the tool functions in an even better user experience.”

Find out more about how STOPit solutions can help your organization reduce risk, discourage bad behavior and provide evidence to help catch those who act abusively. Click below to contact us and find out more.

STOPit and Award-Winning WeTip Join Forces to Improve Public Safety

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.

Find out more about how your municipality can improve public safety and community relations with STOPit. Click below to contact us.

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