New computer software now allows anonymous crime tips to be reported to the Douglasville Police Department, including two-way dialogs, and the police have no way to trace the tipster.
Tipsters can text keyword "DVPD" plus the message to 274637 (CRIMES).
"It allows anyone to anonymously send us a tip via text message about a crime," Capt. J.R. Davidson said, of the Douglasville Police Department. "We can have a two way dialog with the tipster, but their identity can only be revealed if they choose to tell us who they are.
"We just got it up and running a week or so ago, and I’m making an effort to promote the program starting with our schools since teens are probably most comfortable communicating via text," he said.
Once a tip is made, the alert immediately gets emailed to seven officers.
Police can also get back in touch with the tipster if follow up questions need to be asked or new details come to light. Davidson said the servers used are in Canada somewhere and the text can not be traced. "There's a stigma," he said. "No one wants to be the person to rat somebody out. This way there's no way to find out who sent it."
"You’ll also see on the left side of our facebook page is an app that users can click on to send an anonymous tip," Davidson said. "Tips can be anything from code enforcement violations, to drug dealers, to information about burglary suspects or the location of wanted fugitives."
Anyone can text in a tip but there's a focus on kids right now, he said, especially with school starting. He's made 3,000 flyers so each student will get one and posters are going to go up at Douglas County High School, and Stewart and Factory Shoals Middle Schools.
"Kids are really technology driven and texting is second nature to them," he said. "I think they're more comfortable texting than talking to people sometimes. The hope is that they'll just keep that number saved in their phone even when they're out of school."
Emergency situations should still be handled by dialing 911 immediately though.
"We want to stress that people still use 911 for emergencies," he said. "It's more designed for after the crime type of stuff, like if you witnessed something and found out there was a burglary in your neighborhood or something."