Police: Public showing app-titude for technology

Coatesville residents using new anonymous messaging system

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

A new billboard lets Coatesville residents know about a new way to contact police anonymously.

A new billboard lets Coatesville residents know about an innovative way to contact police anonymously.

Right next to the sign welcoming people to the City of Coatesville is another inviting them to communicate anonymously with its Police Department.

Introduced on Dec. 4, the CitizenObserver system facilitates communication between the police and the public through texts or emails. By downloading the CoatesvillePD Tips app for iPhones or Androids, residents can contact police anonymously with a few keystrokes.

In addition, residents who sign up to receive free alerts will get information from police, which could range from news about a road closure to a photo or video of a suspect being sought, police said.

Coatesville Police Sgt. Rodger Ollis said tips have been coming in nearly every day via by text regarding a variety of circumstances, from illegal drug activity to wanted persons.  “The tips are appreciated and we are able to follow up on the information provided,” said Ollis. “I would like to remind individuals who use this service that ‘in-progress criminal activity’ should be reported by dialing 9-1-1 and that they can request to be anonymous at that time as well.”

Police Chief Jack Laufer said he read about the system, which started in St. Paul, Minn., did some research, and felt the city could benefit from it. “The department is pleased with the initial wave of tips and interest we have received after the initial rollout of the TIP411 App,” Laufer said.  “The eventual success of the complete program, which includes the department’s ability to send out alerts, is dependent upon participation of the community. Our billboard is another way to market the program and encourage the participation necessary for its success.”

The Brandywine Health Foundation agreed to fund the  billboard  because promoting public safety is part of its mission, said Frances M. Sheehan, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.

Ollis said the system can be accessed from the City of Coatesville Police Department’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/cityofcoatesvillepolicedepartment – or on the Police Department section of the city’s web site: http://www.coatesville.org/police-department. Anonymous tips can be generated by using the app or by texting the keyword of Coatesville and a message to 847411.


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