February 21, 2020 10:44:14 AM
Area law enforcement agencies are encouraging citizens to use a new app to send tips to Crime Stoppers.
P3 Tips is a free app users can download to their mobile devices and allows them to call their local Crime Stoppers or text a tip anonymously. Users can even upload a video if they've witnessed a crime, without having to go straight to investigators.
Both Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton and Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said Thursday they want to get the word out to citizens to use the app.
"A lot of people are afraid of the repercussions of reporting crimes," Hawkins said. "... You may be at a party somewhere and video taping and actually capture a crime on video, but you don't want to submit that because you don't want anyone to know that you're telling. Well this way you can report that crime, and it's anonymous. We get the information that we need to be able to prosecute the suspects."
Hawkins said the tip goes to a server and then to the correct Crime Stoppers, which contacts the necessary agency.
Capt. Rick Jones, the head of the Columbus Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division, said if an investigator who receives the tip has follow up questions, he or she can contact with tipster through the app, all without the app ever identifying the tipster.
"It'll strictly be a closed conversation between me and you talking back and forth where you're providing information," Jones said.
Shelton said he intends to schedule community meetings in each ward throughout the spring to talk about area crime, and he plans to promote P3 at those meeting.
Both he and Hawkins stressed the app is not a substitute for calling 911 during an emergency or reporting a crime. The app is purely for submitting tips.
Crime Stoppers gives rewards of up to $1,000, depending on the severity of the crime, for tips that lead law enforcement to an arrest and prosecution.
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