Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is introducing a Text-A-Tip program in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties. The software allows all county residents to report non-emergency incidents anonymously.

Photo by John F. Russell

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is introducing a Text-A-Tip program in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties. The software allows all county residents to report non-emergency incidents anonymously.

Anonymous tip texting program arrives in Routt County

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How it works

Text “gftips r” and your tip to 274637. To test the program, include “test” after “gftips r.”

— Standing in front of a banner that informed high school students that the policy prohibiting cell phones in class would be enforced, Steamboat Springs School Resource Officer Josh Carrell asked them to take out their phones.

He told them to text “gftips r” plus the word “test” to 274637. The students in Kelly Erickson’s leadership class complied.

“You just texted an anonymous tip hotline,” Carrell told the class. “This is for the entire Routt County community. We want you guys to help us advertise it.”

Carrell explained that Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, which promotes alternatives to substance abuse, would be introducing the anonymous Text-A-Tip software in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties. He said it allows people, not just students, to send an anonymous text that either he or Routt County Communications Center dispatchers would receive.

The sender gets a reply directing the person to call 911 if it is an emergency, or they can communicate with him or a dispatcher via text depending on the situation, Carrell said. He said it could be used to report drug deals and at-risk behaviors including suicide, vandalism, theft, bullying or other things.

Carrell said the program wasn’t designed to catch kids, but help law enforcement solve crimes or dedicate the proper personnel to help people who might need help.

Grand Futures Moffat County Director Matt Beckett, who is working to get Text-A-Tip up and running in the three counties, said the organization looked into the software for the program more than a year ago. He said it originally was intended as a way for youths to report underage substance abuse, but he realized it wouldn’t just be limited to that.

“This just seemed like a great tool for them to take a proactive stance on issues in school or social groups without being labeled, where they can choose to make the right decisions without the criticism that follows a lot of the time,” Beckett said.

He said Grand Futures got grant funding to pay for the $1,500 annual cost of the TipSoft software. He said subscribers use the same 274637 number, and the code “gftips r” indicates that texts are coming from Routt County. He said the texts are routed through Canada to help ensure that they remain anonymous.

Carrell said the program was advantageous because texting has become such a common form of communication and most people have cell phones.

“I think sometimes people want to tell things but don’t know who to go to,” said senior Nicolas Hessenberger, a student in Erickson’s leadership class. “I feel like this would be a real good way. Being anonymous and texting is a lot easier than calling the cops.”

Senior Michael Savory, ano­ther leadership class student, thought Text-A-Tip could work, but wasn’t convinced.

“I think it’s good, but people will struggle with the idea that it’s anonymous,” he said. “I think if they use it and see the results, it could be more used.”

Carrell said there could be times when he or dispatch could ask for the names of people they’re reporting and it would be up to the sender to provide them. The students acknowledged that in a small town, that could be an issue. But Carrell urged them to spread the word about Text-A-Tip to their friends, parents, siblings and co-workers.

Beckett said Grand Futures had about $3,000 to advertise the program in the county, at schools and in places where youths hang out. Carrell said he and Grand Futures are organizing presentations for the other schools in the county.

Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky seemed encouraged by the program.

“I think anything we can do to give an avenue where people feel safe reporting something that is potentially dangerous is something worth investigating and using,” he said.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

freerider 3 years, 6 months ago

As far as I know about cell phones , there is no such thing as an anonymous tip

All cell phones calls and text messaging is traceable

This is a bad idea , now kids will have a weapon to bully somebody they don't like and I promise you kids are mean and ugly when it comes to school related social issues

Now if somebody or group of kids does decide to gangbang another student are the cops going to know who it is that's doing it ?? Probably, and if not then kids are going to have a loaded weapon with zero accountibility for their actions...

This could easily backfire on them , I would love to hear a response from the school or the police on this because I just don't believe what they are trying to sell here

It says right here in this article that the sender will get a response , well duh , doesn't that mean now there is a record of that number ? And isn't that phone number traceable to the owner of that number ? well Marty Lamansky what's your response to that question ? do you even know anything about cell phones other than how to use one ?

I'm not trying to pick on you here , Just a little devil's advocate , I just don't think you have fully thought this through or your selling meadow muffins

I have two kids in middle school and I know how some of the kids have twisted little brains when it comes to being mean spirited , they could just be bored some day and decide to pick on somebody for fun

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callguinness 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm confused here. This has not really changed much of anything, other than the way people, including kids, can report current crimes or suspicions of crimes.

It is slightly more anonymous than just picking up the phone and calling 911 or 879-1144. Yeah they can see your number and they could call you back, and if they really wanted to they could go through the hoops to track down who you are, they could. Unless you actually give them your name, they won't know who you are, and its up to you if you want to remain anonymous when reporting a crime.

If kids want to be malicious and use this as a way to falsely accuse another kid of a crime or activity, then their are ways to track them down and educate them on how this is not acceptable. I would suggest that it may be worth noting to everyone that false reporting is a crime in and of it self, although it may be hard to prove.

Nothing in this world is anonymous anymore. For a matter of fact, just because it says anonymous next to our names doesn't mean we really are, someone with enough motivation and know how could find out our real names. The people at the paper with access to it, already know my name, as the know yours. However I digress.

I think this is a good program, the more ways and options people have for reporting the better.

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