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Monday, March 25, 2013

SF Police's Text a Tip411 Slow to Respond & Not Monitored 24 Hours as Promised

If you heard the announcements on Muni about reporting graffiti with a simple text on your cell phone, nobody read your messages because the agency never received them; that is, until the SF Examiner exposed the problem.  But that was back in 2010 and hopefully the system works.

There's other anonymous text a tip lines out there like SFPD's:
The San Francisco Police Department has been touting their "Text a Tip" program where a person can text the department through a third party company, and they'll determine if its of a priority nature or forward it to a station or proper department for follow-up.

Read it for yourself:
"Through computers with Internet capability, SFPD Operations personnel will view all tips received 24/7 and evaluate each one. If the tip is of an emergency nature, personnel will forward it immediately to the Department of Emergency Management for officer dispatch. They will forward all other tips for assignment to the appropriate investigative bureau or district station. Investigative units will have an Internet-capable computer at their disposal and will be able to text back and forth with the tipster based on a randomly assigned ID number that the system, provided by Citizen Observer, Inc., supplies. The ID number is wholly confidential and is maintained in the company's server."
Simple enough.  Text them, and someone who monitors the system 24/7 will pass on the message.

I've tried it on a couple of occasions for some mild things like a person who was walking in the street drunk and someone suspicious walking on our block.  Although, I'd only get confirmation hours or even a day after, giving me a hint something doesn't seem right.

Something Smells Funny
That suspicion of it not being monitored all the time came to light in a recent text message conversation between me and whomever was "monitoring" the tip line when I made a request for a patrol officer to visit our block to scare off some recycling thieves:

So I read SFPD's website and it says I addressed an issue of concern and the backend person will decide if it needs to be addressed quickly or not, but since they or whomever third party company don't man the computer all the time, why do we spend our tax dollars on this?  Also, I frown on whomever responded saying: "I don't need to read it [the SFPD website]" as I referred to misleading information on their website.  If you want to be a dick, I'll blog about it.

I'm Not a Mind Reader
Now I know what some of you are thinking, if someone was having a heart attack or a serious crime was in progress, I'd call 911; but how about those that is a lower priority request, say you catch someone ripping down garage sale signs and littering them, or someone digging in everyone's trash can on your block every single week?  If SFPD's website tells me I can text them, they'll dispatch someone, and I remain anonymous, that's pretty nice; but if they don't monitor the messaging system all the time, what's the point of having it at all or why poorly advertise it?

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