MIDLOTHIAN — Finding out about criminal activity in the neighborhood or providing a tip to police just got a little bit easier for Midlothian residents.
The Midlothian Police Department has combined these two functions into a new app for smartphones that is free to download.
“We used to have a crime mapping service through Motorola that we paid a yearly fee for. We got out of that contract and we were contacted by tip411 that offers the crime mapping (service) but for free. The flip side is they offer tip software, which we were interested in getting for a while,” Midlothian Police Capt. John Spann said. “Tip411 allows us to take anonymous tips from the public either over a cell phone or through a website. There is no way to see who it is coming from. We are able to carry two-way conversations with them through the Internet.”
Spann said residents could use the crime map through the app or computer to see what offenses have taken place from half of a mile up to five miles at any address in the city. The crime map will feature new information every 48 hours, but the department is working toward having it update every hour. Information about offenses involving juveniles will not be listed on the map.
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The offenses will show up as points on the map. When a map point is clicked on, the link will provide basic information on the offense and an option for the public to submit information to police. The app also has a separate section to provide tips in addition to the crime map.
“The crime mapping really works well on a laptop or a tablet because of the screen size that you can see on the map. Once you get on there you can choose what kind of time frame you want to look at, specific crimes or all crimes,” Spann explained. “When you look on the map you will see a little icon. Each crime will have its own icon. After you click on it and it might tell you, for example, an assault occurred at that location with the date and time. It also has an option there to submit a tip if you know anything about this crime.”
Spann stated that as soon as a tip is submitted through the app or a computer, the information goes to tip411 first who then sends it to police through an email notification.
According to tip411, the technology in the app removes all identifying information before police see the tips.
“We don’t recommend this for something that is going on because it does take a process. It takes about five to 10 minutes to get a tip from our side,” Spann explained. “So if it some sort of (event) in progress call 9-1-1.”
Residents without a smartphone can also send anonymous tips to Midlothian Police by texting the keyword MIDPD and their message to 847411. Anonymous web tips can be submitted through the department's website at www.midlothian.tx.us/police.
The app also allows police to send out alerts to residents and businesses about breaking events, scams or a crime that had just taken place. Information such as a suspect’s description, the vehicle they were using or a photo can be attached to the alert.
“In Midlothian, we have ambitious goals for providing quality service and an outstanding environment in which to work and or raise a family,” Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith said. “As an organization, we pledge to give our best effort to provide a safe environment for our citizens, business owners and visitors in which to enjoy their daily lives and we believe our new Midlothian PD app will help better connect and engage with our residents to meet that end.”
The app is available for free through the Google Play Store and the iTunes store by searching for “Midlothian PD.” The icon of the app is the department’s patch. The app can be downloaded from the department’s website as well. The crime map can be accessed by computer at www.communitycrimemap.com.