Monthly Media Availability with Chief Bratton Anonymous Tips May Help Detectives Solve Three Major Cases

September 17, 2008

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Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced the implementation of an anonymous crime tip reporting system which uses a common e-mail and cell phone texting platform. The Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Sheriff Lee Baca joined Chief William Bratton this morning to unveil the new software applications and provided an update on three major cases currently being handled by LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Detectives.

TIPSOFT SMS is an application which allows a tipster to provide information to the LAPD and remain completely anonymous. Short Message Service or “SMS” for short are common text messages which can be used by virtually any cell phone user. A third party provider captures the tip and assigns the tipster a code which can be used by the tipster so that, if desired, the tipster can re-enter the system to add information or claim rewards.

TIPSOFT WEB TIPS is an anonymous method of receiving tips via e-mail. A tipster using any computer in the world can log in to provide information. Because the tipster and the police can communicate only through an “anonymizer,” the tipster need not ever be known to the police. The tipster can log back in and provide additional information, such as answering follow-up questions posted for them by the police.

Since the very early days of policing, people have been fearful (sometimes legitimately so) that reporting information to the police could have very undesirable outcomes. A call about a crime could result in a visit from one or more detective or uniformed officer in police car. The “bad guy” might watch the investigation and retaliation would be all but certain. Perhaps a normally law abiding citizen would withhold critical information on a Robbery or Murder for fear that their own misdemeanor warrant would come to light.

Until now there was no system whereby information could be passed from the public to the police and back without the identity of the person providing information being known to the police. Ultimately many valuable tips were withheld from the police because people lacked confidence that their identity would be held in the confidence. Anonymous letters did not have a mechanism to ask simple follow-up questions, eliminate hoaxes, or deliver rewards. These new systems overcome all of these concerns.

The cell phone “text to tip” system requires a simple two part process. First the tipster needs to text “274637” which can be easily remembered by spelling the word “CRIMES” on the keypad. Next, the person must begin the text with the letters LAPD. The web based system requires that the person log in to TIPSUBMIT and click on the LAPD in the agency pull down menu. From there, the tipster should simply follow the prompts.

Robbery Homicide Division Detectives were present at today’s news conference and are hopeful that these systems will open the flow of information between a community fearful of gangs or distrusting of the police in three current major cases: The Murder of Sheriff Deputy Juan Escalante, the Serial Murder Case (“The Grim Sleeper”), and the Series of Robberies in Newton Area. Information about these crimes, including the murder of the off duty Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff is being requested. He was killed on August 2, 2008 in Northeast Los Angeles in an area where witnesses are afraid to be discovered cooperating with the police.

Please contact Lieutenant Sean Malinowski, Regional Crime Center, LAPD at 213-978-6500 or LAPD Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586 for additional information.