Two years ago this week, Conway Police Department implemented the Text-A-Tip program, and officials say usage is high and the program has helped solve several cases.
"We are in the age when this is how people choose to communicate. Even people who don’t care to be anonymous use it because they are used to sending information this way," said La Tresha Woodruff, CPD public information officer.
Citizens can use the program to report tips related to crimes by texting the numerical equivalent to the word "crimes" (274637) and then typing the keyword "Conway" into the body of the message before sending the tip.
The program allows for anonymity, which can quell fears for those reporting sensitive information.
Tips come at all hours of the day and night, Detective Jason Cameron said.
Woodruff praised Cameron’s dedication to the program and credits him for a large part of its success.
"Detective Cameron is so dedicated to this. He gets tips at 2 and 3 in the morning, and he’s answering them," she said.
Cameron, the program’s administrator, said he is answering tips as quickly as he can, but the program is not designed to be monitored 24 hours a day.
It is for giving tips about past, present, or future crimes. No immediate report should be given through the text program.
"If there’s the potential someone could get hurt, or there’s a fight, a reckless driver or a domestic problem, call and speak to dispatch," Cameron said.
When the program is used properly, officers are able to solve crimes and stop others, Woodruff said.
This month Cameron used a text tip to identify a man in a surveillance image the department circulated in order to catch a suspect in a case of fraudulent use of a credit card.
The department circulated the image of the man carrying purchases out of Walmart that he bought with a stolen credit card on June 6 along with the request to send information using Text-A-Tip.
"I started getting messages within an hour of it being in the news," Cameron said. "We got specific information that led us to identify the man."
Cameron said the program has been helpful with drug cases, and in the last year led the department to four felony fugitive warrants.
Police have used tips to recover stolen property and find sex offenders, Cameron said.
The expense of the program, $1,177 per year, is fully justified, he said.
In press releases and other publications, the department adds a reminder for the public about the program.
Cameron and Woodruff said news partnerships, like with the Log Cabin Democrat, have been essential in spreading the word about Text-A-Tip.
Advertisements have also been used to spread awareness, and officers are provided with cards with Text-A-Tip information to give to the public.
Anyone with information on a crime should call Conway Police Department at 450-6120, or remain anonymous by texting a tip to "CRIMES" using the key word "Conway."
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)