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Nov. 12, 2014 --Westchester County law enforcement is launching an anonymous web tip program - tip411 - that will allow anyone with either a smartphone, tablet, standard cell phone or computer to text in a tip to their local police department.

The Westchester County Crime Tips app is available for both Android and iPhone devices and will enable the public to send anonymous tips to their local police department with the police able to respond back, creating a two way anonymous "chat."

The software was developed by CitizenObserver, a St. Paul Minnesota company, that provides Web-based alerting tools to local state and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies in over 40 states.

In Westchester County, the vast majority, 37 of the 42 police agencies will be participating in this web tip program.

The app is available on the iTunes Store at WC Crimetips; and on the Google Play Store at WC Crimetips.

You can also go to the Westchester County Crime Tips Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestchesterCrimeTips to submit a tip and download the app.

The Yonkers Police Department has been successfully using the CitizenObserver System for the last four years.

The way the new interactive social media system works is by texting your local police department's – keyword - and your - tip - to 847411 (tip411).

What tip411 does:

  • Protects the anonymity of the sender by assigning a six-digit code with numbers and letters.
  • The technology removes all identifying information before the police department sees it so there's no way to identify the sender.
  • Messages can be responded to in real time creating an instant two-way live "chat".
  • It allows you to text photos and/or video.
  • Since police are familiar with the local area they know the best questions to ask.
  • It allows the public to text information about drug activity, other suspicious or criminal activity people with outstanding warrants and cold cases.
  • If it's an active case, the tip is treated as one piece of information and detectives do other work to verify the validity of the tip.
  • Tips stored on redundant servers in different locations nationwide that are managed by the vendor.

What tip411 doesn't do:

  • It doesn't track the identity of the tipster.
  • It is not a substitute for calling 911. If you need police or other emergency responders you still should call 911.
  • It does not retain data after the tipster completes the "chat".

"This program puts a powerful new crime fighting tool into the hands of our community. Law enforcement must continue to be forward thinking, and embracing the way many people communicate today, adds to the way that everyone, especially the younger age demographic, can contact police. The system allows citizens to report on a crime without having to say a word, providing an unprecedented anywhere, anytime, silent and anonymous approach to crime reporting," said District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

"Fighting crime needs the support of all members of the community. Giving the public the ability to anonymously communicate with the police will hopefully give people who would not normally come forward with crime tips the ability to do so. With tight operating budgets, having the support of the District Attorney to make this program available to Westchester Law Enforcement is outstanding," said Chief Gregory Austin, Rye Brook Police Department and President of the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association.

"Over the last few years, Tip 411 has been proven to be an invaluable method for our department to receive anonymous tips ranging from narcotics activity, wanted persons, and gang intelligence. Members of the public can send us these tips without the fear of reprisal and we can receive instantaneous feedback from the tipster if we have any follow up questions. We look forward to the rest of the county using this great tool," said Commissioner Charles Gardner, Yonkers Police Department.

The police departments in Westchester County that are participating in the program are:

  • Ardsley Village Police Department
  • Bedford Town Police Department
  • Briarcliff Manor Village Police Department
  • Bronxille Village Police Department
  • Buchanan Village Police Department
  • Croton on Hudson Police Department
  • Dobbs Ferry Village Police Department
  • Eastchester Town Police Department
  • Elmsford Village Police Department
  • Greenburgh Police Department
  • Harrison Police Department
  • Hastings Village Police Department
  • Irvington Village Police Department
  • Larchmont Village Police Department
  • Mamaroneck Town Police Department
  • Mamaroneck Village Police Department
  • Mount Pleasant Police Department
  • Mount Vernon City Police Department
  • New Castle Town Police Department
  • New Rochelle City Police Department
  • North Castle Police Department
  • Ossining Village Police Department
  • Peekskill City Police Department
  • Pelham Manor Village Police Department
  • Pelham Village Police Department
  • Pleasantville Village Police Department
  • Port Chester Village Police Department
  • Pound Ridge Town Police Department
  • Rye Brook Police Department
  • Scarsdale Village Police Department
  • Sleepy Hollow Village Police Department
  • SUNY Purchase College
  • Tarrytown Village Police Department
  • Tuckahoe Village Police Department
  • Westchester County Department of Public Safety
  • Yonkers Police department
  • Yorktown Police Department

Funding for the program comes through asset forfeiture funds.