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Smartphone app to fight campus crime a good idea

Students at Sauk Valley Community College now have a new way to report crimes and misconducts to campus security. We encourage them to download the TipNow app and use it.

Published: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

We wrote just last week about the importance of an involved citizenry in the never-ending fight against crime.

In that instance, the Dixon Police Department released surveillance photos of two people who illegally accessed a bank account through an ATM machine.

Someone out there recognized the duo, a man and a woman, and contacted police. Through that citizen alertness and willingness to become involved, police were able to make a positive identification of both suspects.

And this week, a new way for the public to become involved in helping authorities crack down on illegal behavior was announced.

In this case, the public are those who attend Sauk Valley Community College in rural Dixon.

The SVCC Security Department has joined forces with a company in California that has created a smartphone application that can be used to report “crimes and misconducts.”

Students can download the TipNow app from any app store, select the Sauk “campus,” and then relay information via email, text or voice. Video or photos can also be attached to the tips.

The tips go to the app’s creator, Resiligence Inc., which then forwards the information to the SVCC security team (after scrambling the sender’s information to maintain anonymity).

The SVCC security team has the ability to contact the tipster for additional information, again without compromising the tipster’s identity.

After 3 days, the tip is purged from the system, which provides further protection.

The use of text messages to provide tips about such activities as bullying, hazing, stalking, noisy parties, vandalism, cheating in class, social media abuse, and even school shootings looks to be an important tool to increase security at SVCC.

It’s also a tool that young people might be much more likely to use, as they are very comfortable sending text messages, tweets, and so forth.

Brian Beckman, supervisor of SVCC Security, was convinced of the app’s value when he learned how TipNow averted a campus tragedy in California. A man with a gun in his backpack was intercepted because of an anonymous tip.

The service costs the college about $2,000 a year. We’d say that is a worthwhile investment to increase safety.

We encourage the students who attend SVCC, and the adults who work there, to download TipNow, become familiar with it, and be prepared to use it.

The more eyes and ears that are on watch for “crimes and misconducts,” the better.

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