EPD eyes new tool for seeking crime tips

Published 8:17 pm Thursday, June 14, 2018

In a technology-driven world, county and city agencies are looking to use that to their advantage when working with the public.

That’s the case for the Elizabethton Police Department, which is looking to encourage community engagement through the use of an online app to help deter crime within the city.

Prior to the Elizabethton Star press deadline, City Council was going over a measure and working to approve a contract between the EPD and tip411 to help fulfill the technological “need” that the department has looked to fill.

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According to information provided by City Hall, Police Chief Jason Shaw indicated in an agenda item summary that “tip411 will allow community engagement and information sharing by computer and smartphones,” and that, if approved, the implementation of the app could be as soon as July 1. The initial two-year contract was pegged at a cost of $6,000, which would be covered from the police department’s 2018-19 budget.

The scope of services allows citizens to send anonymous tips directly to the department either by the web, text message or by apps through the android and iPhone market. Tip411 is a web-based alert tool that allows law enforcement to enter content about crimes and incidents, pushing the information to different businesses, citizens and watch groups that have signed up.

Along with a tip411 mobile app, tip service and community alerts, the program also allows crime mapping, social media publishing and an agency dashboard that can be utilized by officials.

EPD’s goal of looking to engage the public through social media is a route being taken by other agencies across the country. Locally, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office recently launched their own app that allows citizens to help locate and turn in suspects with arrest warrents.

The County’s CCSO Neighborhood Cleanup app received noteable feedback since its creation. It was created through the department’s “Operation Clean Up Your Neighborhood” IT program.

Having a new program in place is part of an expansive measure being taken by the department for the upcoming fiscal year. In the new budget, bond proceeds have been allocated to the department to help with renovations of the former Ritchie’s building, located beside the department, to be used for expanding the department’s work. Communication radio tools are also pegged in the budget to help with coordination between emergency personnel agencies in the city and county.

More information on the app, and other EPD matters that were discussed during the Thursday City Council meeting, will be made available in the weekend edition of the Elizabethton Star.