ABBEVILLE, LA — “People are scared for real”, Joe Reid told me from his Abbeville home.
There’s a problem in the city. Witnesses of violent crime are being threatened if they tip off the police.
“They do not care”, Reid said. “They don’t care who’s living. Next thing you know, ‘Oh, you talking? Yes, I’m talking. Boom, boom, boom, boom!”
But the Abbeville Police Department released a new app and website, Friday. Tips 411 allows anyone to submit tips anonymously. The third-party site encrypts the identity of whoever sends tips, so officers can’t find out who’s giving tips even if they wanted to.
Chief William Spearman hopes the modern technology will translate into more participation, “Everybody has a text message. Everybody has some kind of web page. I feel that this is going give people a chance to send us things without people knowing what they sent it to us and that this going have a big impact on crime”.
Chief Spearman says his department researched and saved for this resource for a long time. Tips 411 is used across the country, and in its first day, Abbeville Police have already received a dozen tips.
“If you have information please, we need that information”, pleaded Chief Spearman. “We’ll investigate it, and you will remain anonymous”.
Reid thinks the anonymity has the potential to be a game-changer. “If they knew that. That it would remain anonymous, they’d probably get that”, he said.
Reid believes it’s a good move, but thinks the best thing police can do to deter crime is patrol, “If can help anything to do with the community and keeping the community safe, I’ll be all for it”.
The free app isn’t only for submitting tips. It can also give alerts for school lockdowns, closed roads, community events, and more.
The app will soon have an officer directory, so if any citizen wants to communicate with a specific detective, they can contact the one they want.