Watertown’s Newest Weapons in Crime Fighting:
Citizen Observer and TIP 411
City of Watertown residents will soon have the opportunity to register with Citizen Observer, an innovative service being used across the country to send important messages to residents via text message and/or email. The program allows citizens to be alerted and informed of important events in real-time so that they may act accordingly.
The City of Watertown will be utilizing this system beginning October 1, 2010 to send out community alerts, information on citizen safety, city sponsored meetings and news updates relative to the City of Watertown. In an effort to increase citizen awareness and improve communication with members of the community, the City of Watertown is encouraging its citizens to register with the Citizen Observer. Doing so allows citizens to be informed and receive information directly from the City of Watertown about important events and incidents.
The City of Watertown will be able to utilize the Citizen Observer program to relay information to residents about different alerts and reports from city departments. A Few examples of information forwarded to residents would be to advise of snow emergencies, road closures or area construction, areas of increased crime or to assist the police department in identifying a suspect. Though the possibilities are endless of what information could be sent out to citizens we are mindful that resisdents may be charged for each message that they receive. There will also be guidelines as to what type of information can be sent out by city departments.
Tip411 will be also implemented by the Watertown Police Department starting on October 1st, 2010 as a tool to allow anyone with a cell phone to provide information anonymously to our agency online or via text message. This kind of "on demand" capability enables the public to provide immediate information while maintaining anonymity.
- It's 100% anonymous.
- A third-party company removes the phone number, replaces it with an ID number and sends it on to police.
- Messages can be responded to in real time creating an instant two way live "chat” with a police department official.
It is estimated that over 234 million people in the US have cell phones and that number is growing quickly. The Tip 411 system allows citizens to submit a tip without having to say a word, providing an unprecedented anywhere, anytime, silent, and anonymous approach to crime reporting. Text messages can be transmitted faster than voice calls, and can be sent even when voice traffic is jammed or signal strength is too weak for voice calls. Texting requires much less battery power, and thus is a better choice for communicating when the battery is low or the phone is being used in a remote location. Tips can also be submitted online for those who may not have cell phones but still wish to remain anonymous.
It is important to note that Tip411 should never replace 911. Its purpose is to
provide an anonymous outlet for reporting crime tips. In the event of an active incident or a life-threatening situation, the user should always dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Cell phone set up for tip411 is easy:
1. Under ‘Contacts’ on your cell phone, establish a new group titled “847411” and save.
2. Now go to your text messaging as you would to send a text message to someone.
3. In the “To” block (who you’re going to send it to), type in “847411”.
4. Drop to your text box; once in text box type in “WTTN” followed by a space. Letters are not case sensitive.
5. Then type in your crime tip and push send once your crime tip is complete.
An example tip would look like this:
WTTN the vehicle involved in the hit and run accident on Saturday night is parked in the driveway at 440 Winston Ln.
Once a crime tip is sent, you will receive a message from Citizen Observer indicating the message has been forwarded to the Watertown Police Department. The Watertown Police Department can respond to the sender to ask for additional information. If the sender does not want any further contact, the sender only needs to push the “stop” or “end” button on their phone and the contact between the citizen and the Police Department is broken. Please note that Text message charges may apply to your account, depending on the terms of the service.
If you have questions about the Citizen Observer, TIP 411 or need help registering, please contact Officer Stacy Schroeder at the Watertown Police Department at 920-206-4210.