Kent Police Department uses app for tip reporting

Avery Savage, Reporter

The new Kent PD app is designed to allow individuals to submit tips anonymously to law enforcement, schools and community groups.

The Kent Police Department says the goal of the app is to bring awareness to criminal activity within the community.

The app is free, and tips are completely anonymous, said Lt. Mike Lewis of the Kent Police Department. Fictitious usernames are shown with letters and numbers to represent the individual who reported the tip.

“The app is created and operated by a third party completely separate from the Kent police department,” Lewis said. “I want everyone to know that this isn’t something that is solely operated by the police department, but instead run by another company that we have contracted with. They make certain that we cannot track who the tipster is.”

The app is easy to use for people who aren’t tech-savvy, Lt. Bob Treharn of the Kent Police Department said.

Individuals submit tips by adding a subject, location and description of what occurred. Two-way communication can occur through the app, Lewis said.

“It’s really interesting because we can have a conversation back-and-forth, and the person is never identified. It’s almost like there’s a middle person who is involved, never divulging your identity. It’s really simple,” Lewis said.

The Kent police department receives a variety of tips related to criminal activity. The department has received tips about warrants and stolen property, both of which have led to arrests. Treharn said the most common arrests resulting from the tips are related to warrants, but the process takes supplemental work.

“Since the information on the app is anonymous, additional investigation needs to be done to verify the information that is provided before we can proceed with an investigation, but it has resulted in solving some crimes,” Treharn said.

Despite the app’s successes, some do not feel comfortable reporting tips to the police. People don’t report criminal activity because they fear for their safety, Lewis said.

People fear consequences about names coming out, said Madelyn Braun, a recent Kent State graduate.

“I think having an app for something like that is a bit too casual,” Braun said. “People always have access to their phones, and a lot of people get incredibly paranoid. Having that instant access to the police would give a lot of people more power because they wouldn’t have to speak to someone on the phone or in person,”

People may fear retaliation and don’t want to get involved because of that, Lewis said.

“I think some people may not want to report something directly to the police department especially if they know the person they are providing information about because that person may find out,” Treharn said.

But the app is 100 percent anonymous and will not disclose the informant’s name, Lewis assured.

“The community needs to know that the app isn’t monitored 24/7, and to report in-progress crimes or emergencies they still need to contact the police department directly,” Treharn said.

Avery Savage is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].