The Mountain View Police Department is now using TipSoft — a citizen crime-reporting system, which users can access via standard text messaging or a free smart phone application.
The TipSoft system has a strong track record in preventing crimes and solving cases, according to a press release issued by police officials. The service, created by the online company CrimeReports.com, is credited with contributing to 145,000 arrests, 55,000 fugitives caught and more than $5.3 billion in seized drugs and recovered property.
Lt. Derek Sousa, head of the MVPD's investigative services division, told the Voice that some people would rather make reports using their cell phones and that the department is happy to accommodate them.
"It's fairly clear to us that there are certain people who just don't want to get involved," Sousa said. "They want to remain anonymous and this is another way that they can do that."
There are a number of ways to access the TipSoft system — all of them anonymous, according to the release.
The most basic method of submitting a tip is via text messaging. Text tips can now be sent to the MVPD by addressing a message to the number 274637, or "crimes," typing in the keyword "MVTips" — all one word — and then typing in a brief tip of no more than 160 characters.
There is also a TipSoft smartphone app, which is available for the iPhone and for Android devices. Using the TipSoft app, concerned citizens can send images or videos to the local police. Users of the TipSoft app can also send simple text tips.
The smartphone application has some advantages over sending tips via text, according to the TipSoft website. Besides the ability to send photos and video, the application can geographically tag the location from which a tip was sent, making it easier for officers to get to the scene. The app also has a chat feature, which allows users to chat virtually with emergency responders. TipSoft users can also chat via text, but it is not as efficient as the instant messenger feature of the app.
Finally, TipSoft can also be accessed on the web by going to TipSoft.com — however, the MVPD recommends using the department's own tip-reporting online service instead. Citizens interested in reporting crimes through their browser can go to the City of Mountain View's website, click onto the MVPD's page under the tab marked "Public Safety" and scroll down to the hyperlink for the department's "online crime reporting tool."
Chief Scott Vermeer said the new technology would undoubtedly be an asset. "We look forward to our community having another option when reporting vital information that can solve crimes and make Mountain View an even safer place," he said in the press release.