FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Calling in anonymous tips might be a thing of the past with the implementation of P3 Tips--- an app that allows users to submit anonymous tips to law enforcement agencies. In January, The Forrest County Sheriff's Office adopted the new mobile-friendly platform.
"In the old days, people could only reach us by telephone--- that was it," said Diane James, Metro Crime Stoppers coordinator. Now, you can reach us on your smartphone or on your laptop, either one and you can also receive your tip. You never have to pick up the phone to call me to get your money."
The app is available for download on iPhone or android. It's also accessible via desktop computers.
"Everyone has a smart device these days and we have to keep up with trends and technology," said John Tryner, Forrest County Sheriff's Office investigator. "It's very simple to use, people can submit tips anonymously and we want to provide people, by in large, a quick and easy way to submit tips to law enforcement."
Anonymity is a major concern for law enforcement agencies as it relates to residents feeling comfortable to share information regarding crimes in their neighborhood. But, apps like P3 Tips protects users confidentiality.
"We have people that live in these communities," said Tryner. "They're there day in and day out (and) they see what's going on. But, a lot of them are afraid to report the activity or they may not have the means or it may be out of fear for some type of retribution. But, if they could utilize these sources that we give them to be able to submit these tips anonymously, we hope that they will utilize that and start using that to help us combat the crime in their neighborhoods."
The app is available for use 24/7.
"We're in that technology age, some people aren't as comfortable on the phone talking about what they see," said James. "But, they can get very intimate with that computer. They can access it anytime day or night and tell us those intimate details."
Prior to using P3 Tips, the Metro Crime Stoppers used TipSoft. Unlike the previous app, the new platform allows for two-way dialogue between tipsters and investigators.
"In many cities, they are solving a lot of crimes like that," said James. "It's so exciting."
Additionally, users can upload screenshots, videos, audio and pictures via the app.
"You can upload any illegal activity," said James.
According to James, once a tipster shares their information on a crime she sends it to the respective law enforcement agency. Any tip that leads to a felony arrest will be awarded with a designated monetary reward.
"It's another tool in law enforcement," she said of the app. "One good tip that's called in over the phone or given to P3 Tips can save an investigator a lot of street work (and) a lot of time. Like on burglaries and things, one tip can solve 10 burglaries. And that's what we want, people (who) are seeing the criminal activity and let us know. And you can help police clear up some cases, you can get some reward money and you can get the crime out of your community."
The Metro Crime Stoppers covers multiple counties including Forrest, Lamar, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Marion and Lawrence. Therefore, residents in each county are able to submit information to authorities.
"Virtually, the whole state of Mississippi is switching over to P3," said James. "Most Crime Stoppers people in the nation have already switched, because it is so user-friendly. If I can get on it (and) learn how to do it easily, anybody can."
Even though it debuted a couple of months ago, James says she's seen some usage out of the app.
"Some people have bought into it, but we want everyone," said James. "If nothing else, just go to P3Tips.com, see how easy it is, scroll down and see that your town is listed there."
James hopes P3 Tips revolutionizes the way citizens share information.
"I really believe P3 is going to change the game in how crimes are solved and how people interact with law enforcement," she said.