Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 6, 2014

ASK THE SHERIFF: How to contact police without making a 911 call

Goshen News

---- — DEAR SHERIFF: If I am aware of a crime (that is not presently being committed), how can I provide a tip without calling 911 or bothering an officer? Also, is there a way to contact 911 in an emergency without actually placing a voice call?

ANSWER: The sheriff’s office has been proactive in staying on the cutting edge of technology by using social media and alert notifications. Using this technology we can now provide more information for citizens and easily receive more tips from citizens. Here’s how you can plug in to this technology and help our community:

1 — Sign up at www.elkhartcountysheriff.com to receive alerts. Being on this mail/text list will quickly provide for you crime trends or other vital information that you would not otherwise have access to.

2 — If you have a crime tip, go to www.elkhartcountysheriff.com and click on the link “Help Fight Crime. Submit a Tip.” This will take you to a web submission form to complete the details of the tip.

3 — Use your cell phone and send us a text us at TIP411 (847411). Title your message: “ECSDTIP” and then give us the tip.

4 — Go to www.elkhartcountysheriff.com and download the free Sheriff’s Department iPhone or Android app. Using this method enables you to give anonymous tips. Please note: Contrary to what some people have suggested, this app does not allow us to track your movement or see any identifying information on your phone.

5 — Use the Michiana Crime Stoppers website at www.michianacrimestoppers.com and submit your tip via their website, or you may still call their anonymous tip lines at 1-800-342-STOP or 574-288-STOP.

I must emphasize the above techniques are only for tips regarding crimes and situations that are not “in progress” or when you do not need the immediate response of an officer. These communications from you are not being monitored 24/7; they will be answered or addressed during regular business hours only. However, if a crime is presently being committed in your presence, always call 911. The 911 dispatchers are available 24/7 and can best send you the emergency resources you need, whether police, fire or ambulance.

Elkhart County’s 911 Center is also on the cutting edge of technology. When you are experiencing an actual emergency, you should “CALL WHEN YOU CAN, TEXT IF YOU MUST.” The 911 Center now has an option for the hearing impaired and deaf community (or for anyone in a situation that would be put them in danger by making a voice call). For example, for emergencies like home invasions, kidnapping, the presence of an active shooter, etc. you may not be able to speak on the phone without being discovered by the bad guy. In these situations, texting may be your best lifeline for getting help. Simply send a text to 911. Give the address of your present location and the details of your emergency. Avoid using slang or abbreviations. Also, for the present, it is best if you text in English.

Ask-the-Sheriff a question by emailing Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers at brogers@elkhartcountysheriff