Blount County Crimestoppers are evolving and embracing new kinds of communication options. “Text to Protect” is a new program that allows residents to anonymously text tips.
The program, although available to everyone, is being marketed to students. All city and county schools were given posters to display in their schools detailing the program.
The Discovery Middle School shooting in 2010 in Madison County had a big part in paving the road for this program, according to Oneonta Police Chief James Chapman. “Many students at the school knew the student had a gun, and even though there was a call line, they didn’t use it,” he said. “Due to that lack of communication, they developed a texting option and they have since had numerous text tips about other incidents.”
The program, which started this month in Blount County, stemmed from Blount and other jurisdictions realizing kids won’t call if they have information on a crime, but they are more likely to text. By offering texting tips, Chapman said students will be more involved.
As is the case with the calling option, texting will also be completely anonymous, according to Chapman.
Chapman warns this program is not to be used in emergencies. Rather, this option is used for crimes that have either already occurred or might be impending. In case of emergency, dial 911.
With the journey the text message makes to ensure its anonymity, it may be 24 hours before the text is given to local police to begin an investigation.
“Tip lines are not designed to be responded to immediately,” Chapman said.
When the text is received, it will be assigned a number, and if that tip leads to an arrest, the sender will receive an award.
To send a tip text CRIMES (AKA) 274637 and begin your tip message with 7777. The Crimestoppers tip line is 274-2746