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Local police: Text us with tips

October 23, 2009
Kylie Saari — Staff Writer

FAIRMONT - Fairmont Police have a new way to submit a tip - via text message.

School Resource Officer Jaime Bleess said the technological advancement is a second stage of the department's well-used e-government plan.

Users already have an option of anonymously tipping police online, a service Chief Greg Brolsma says has proven valuable.

Texting is just another way the public can communicate with law enforcement when they are uncomfortable making a call.

Bleess said as a school resource officer he knows it is difficult for kids to come and see him face to face with information.

"We thought about a tip box," Bleess said, "but kids are smart and see other kids doing that. We are sensitive to that. Every kid in the high school has a phone or access to the phone. Kids text all the time; adults are texting more and more. We want to be able to meet kids were they are at."

The vast majority of kids want a safe school and community, and they have a lot of information, Bleess said.

Unsolved crimes, warrant information and tips about upcoming drinking parties are all welcome on the tip line, which sends out an email to officers.

"A lot of times we find out about these things after the fact, and if we find out after we sure aren't preventing anything," Bleess said. "If we get these tips we can be more proactive."

The text line is not immediate, however, and does not replace 911 in an emergency.

"We know that a lot of kids and adults are a little nervous or afraid and don't want to pick up the phone," Brolsma said. "They don't want to pick up the phone and call 911, but it would be very comfortable for them (to text) if they see something they know isn't right - it's a way for them to do this without a concern for them on their part."

The text tip line presents concerns similar to any anonymous tip line, but Brolsma said police are prepared to weed out hoaxes.

"I think 'tip' is a really good way (to think of it)," he said. "We get a lot of forms of information and we have to evaluate how good of a tip that is and act accordingly."

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