Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 19, 2013

SPD unveils texting program targeting students


Somerset —

“The tips go through different computer servers that strip away personal information and give the sender a unique identifying code as an alias name,” Smith said in the press release. “That alias and the tip is the only information the police officers receive. 
“Officers can reply to the message, but they will have no idea to whom they are conversing,” Smith continued. “Likewise, the alias would be the only name officers would know should a reward be offered for certain information.”
This newest program adds a technologically-savvy facet to SPD’s school violence prevention program, which includes regular active shooter training. SPD conducted an active shooter training program at a local school soon after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings — although the session had already been in the planning stages when the Dec. 14 incident occurred. 
"Students today are growing up in a digital age,” Nelson said in the press release. “Therefore, it's important for the law enforcement community and our police department to offer different ways to
interact with our youth.”
Smith said the program is targeted to young people, but he said anyone can use it to report a crime. He emphasized that as much detail should be included as possible, including location of the alleged crime.
To text a tip to officers, follow these three steps:  
1. Compose a new message to "CRIMES" (274637 on most phones) 
2. Include "SOMERSETPD" in the message, along with the tip information
3. Press SEND
The program will cost the police department about $2,000 yearly.  
“That is money well spent if this prevents something from going on in our schools,” Smith said. “ ... We wouldn’t be investing the time and effort and the money to launch this  if we didn’t think this wasn’t a route worth taking.”
“See-Hear-Report” will continue to be supplemented by SPD’s 24-Hour Crime Tip Line at (606) 676-TIPS.

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