The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Dept. (ECSD) launched its latest crime reduction program Friday.
Under the leadership of Sheriff Brad Rogers, the department has embraced and expanded its presence online as well as its emphasis on reducing crime with community assistance.
Along with programs aimed at reducing recidivism in the jail, community policing initiatives, crime analysis and anticipation, ECSD now has an interactive alert system.
The system consists of two primary elements. The first, an alert system that residents of Elkhart County can opt into and receive messages and updates on crime in a particular township or throughout the entire county. The second, a digital tip submission system, allows people to inform the sheriff’s office of suspicious or criminal activity.
Sheriff Rogers emphasized that the tip line is not designed for emergencies, however it is designed for people to contribute information about an ongoing investigation or an outstanding warrant.
Registration can be completed online via Facebook or the sheriff department’s website under the “Help Fight Crime. Submit a tip” tab on the right hand of the screen. Users are sent to an anonymous tip form which includes details about what the situation involves, where it occurred, as well as any details or photographs.
Officers within the department are alerted whenever a tip is submitted and can respond and request additional information. That’s why Rogers asks those who do submit tips to record their tip ID number to check back for feedback and follow up.
Text message tips can be submitted directly to the sheriff’s office through the address TIP-411 or 847-411 and a message starting with “ecsdtip.”
Rogers said ECSD is currently working on a free smart phone application for androids and iPhones. The app will allow people to submit tips and photographs directly from their phones and receive responses through the app from sheriff’s deputies. The app is expected to be released sometime in January, 2014.
“With this alert system, combined with the township meetings and all the other stuff we're doing at the Sheriff's office, we have provided the tools that are best to communicate to the public and for the public to communicate back to us,” Rogers said.
Over the summer ECSD started a citizen policing initiative through a series of town hall-style meetings. When asked how the program was going, Rogers said the department saw very little turnout. He envisions this digital crime reporting to be better aligned with the 21st century.
Crime reports will continue to be posted on social media as well as through the new alert system. Rogers warns that although it may seem as if crime is going up, in actuality it’s just the awareness of crime that has been increasing.
“You're still going to have the people with the concept, ‘I just don't want to know about that because I feel safer.’ Well, that's a false sense of security. Because whether you have it or not the crimes are being committee,” said Rogers.