DIXON – He came to campus with a gun in his backpack, and he intended to use it. After an anonymous tip to campus security, he was arrested. Tragedy averted.
It was that incident in California that convinced Sauk Valley Community College Security Supervisor Brian Beckman that signing up with TipNow was a good idea.
Sauk is the first agency in Illinois to use TipNow, "a free, anonymous texting app that allows students to report crimes and misconducts to security at SVCC," school spokeswoman Rachel Kobus said in a news release.
Those "crimes and misconducts" can range from noisy parties, vandalism, and cheating in class, to social media abuse, bullying, hazing, stalking, and yes, school shootings.
If needed, information can flow both ways: Campus security can reply to the tipster while he or she remains anonymous.
How it works:
The app can be downloaded on any smartphone (find TipNow on any app store, provide your location, select "campus" and choose Sauk) or there's a phone number: 815-668-8642.
The tipster can relay information via email, text or voice. Video or photos can be attached to the electronic tips.
"For instance, if you see someone out back smoking marijuana, you could snap a picture and send that to us," Beckman said.
Resiligence Inc., the app's Silicon Valley creator, then relays the information to Sauk security, scrambling the sender's info to maintain anonymity, and the security team acts on the tip. If needed, the Lee County Sheriff's Department will be brought in, Beckman said.
If more information is required, the Sauk team communicates with the tipster through Resiligence.
The tip and information on the sender is purged from the Resiligence system after 3 days.
Although anyone in the community can use TipNow, the tips go straight to campus security and so should pertain only to incidents at Sauk, Beckman said.
While he advises tipsters to be discreet, he's not really worried about anyone being in danger using TipNow, Beckman said.
"Everybody's texting these days," he said, "so most likely no one will be any the wiser, especially if you're not being obvious about it."
Resiligence solicited Beckman in an email, and at first he was skeptical, he said. But he watched a webinar on the service, and the California police chief's story of how TipNow helped abort a potential campus shooting persuaded him to bring the service to the attention of Sauk officials.
TipNow costs Sauk about $2,000 a year. It's available now, although officials still are creating posters and getting the word out to students, Beckman said.
Unlike the anonymous Crime Stoppers program, there is no monetary reward for tips.
"Hopefully, our students share the same feeling that we do:" the desire for a safer, more secure campus for everyone, Beckman said.
More on TipNow
Go to tipnow.com or find the service on Facebook to watch a webinar or for more information on the security service.
Call Sauk Valley Community College Security Supervisor Brian Beckman, 815-835-6323, for more information on its local application.