Boston Police Department
In early 2007, the Boston Police Department was looking for a creative solution to inspire witness cooperation and community involvement at a time when the "stop snitching" culture had gained strong momentum. The lack of community cooperation, particularly among youth, created a major challenge for the department. There was an anonymous phone tip line through the Crime Stoppers program that citizens could call if they knew something, but too few people were using the line.
- In June 2007, MMS launched the first anonymous text tip line for a police department in the United States. Text-a-Tip was designed to help the Boston Police Department Crime Stoppers unit reach a whole new audience of youth who prefer texting to talking. This new service could now reach a key youth audience, who are most likely to have the critical information officers need to solve crimes. In addition to calling 1-800-494-TIPS, Boston citizens can now text in an anonymous tip simply by sending the word "Tip" to the short code 27463 (CRIME). Tips can lead to rewards of up to $1,000.
- MMS also designed and developed a custom web-based management and reporting interface for the Crime Stoppers unit to help manage incoming tips. The unit can even chat with tipsters through the interface via 1-to-1 chat sessions. Awareness for the program was implemented through a multi-channel communications plan, including outdoor, radio and PR, executed by Boston-based advertising agency, Hill Holliday.
- Over the initial 18 months, over 600 text tips were received.
- In any given month, the BPD now receives just as many text tips as phone tips.
- Tips have led to inroads and arrests on serious crime cases.
- Citizens feel more empowered to help their community. Most do not care about the reward but instead, want to rid their communities of criminals and crime.