New app helps Forest Lake police better connect with the public
The Forest Lake Police Department is increasing its crime fighting arsenal with a new app to help residents connect with the department to find information, view alerts, and submit anonymous tips from their smartphones.
“Our department has a strong partnership with the citizens in our community,” Director of Public Safety Richard Peterson said. “I have found that the more information we can provide to the citizens, the more they help us keep Forest Lake a safe and good place to live, and that’s why I believe the new Forest Lake PD app from tip411 will help enhance our ability to engage our community.”
The Forest Lake PD app enables the public to share an anonymous tip with police and lets officers respond back to create a two-way conversation. The app and its tip411 text-a-tip system are completely anonymous, as the technology removes all identifying information before police see the tips and there is no way to identify the sender.
According to Detective Nancy Carlson from the Forest Lake Police Department, tip411 is used by many law enforcement agencies across the nation.
“After researching the program and its capabilities, we knew it would be beneficial for our department to use in collecting information that some would not normally feel comfortable in sharing due to lack of anonymity,” Carlson said. “Tip411 first reached out to us with information on their program, what they have to offer, how it has been used and what has come from its use. They took the time to sit some of us down and go over the program step by step so we could see all of it firsthand. They work with many agencies and have a lot of success stories from its use, so we knew it would be beneficial to our community.”
According to Carlson, the Forest Lake Police Department plans to use it to put out press releases, important community information, community engagement event notifications, as well as taking in crime related or crime prevention tips from the public. Tips come in and are viewed by a select number of officers. They are then assigned to and followed-up by the appropriate staff member. Officers are able to give updates to tipsters as well if needed.
“The tip form we were previously using was not user-friendly and therefore did not produce a lot of helpful information. Tip411 is extremely user-friendly and is available at the touch of a button on any smartphone once the app is downloaded,” Carlson said. “We also plan to promote this program to the students, parents, guardians and staff in the Forest Lake Area School District as another tool to keep our schools and our community safe. We hope this will be a great tool to use to connect further with our youth to feel more comfortable to engage with law enforcement to voice their concerns.”
Carlson stated that people with smartphones are able to download the app by searching “Forest Lake PD” on their phones’ respective app store. The app can send in information as well as photographs and video recordings. People can also submit tips via a link at flpd.com, the department’s Facebook page at @forestlakepolicedept or by texting “FLPD” to 847411 (tip411).
“Tip411 will receive the tip, assign it an anonymous number and we only see what they have written or attached (photo or video). We are able to reply to the tipster if we have a further question or inquiry without it ever identifying them or their phone number,” Carlson said.
This “Forest Lake PD” app is specific to Forest Lake Police Department. Tip411 is used nationwide, with each department able to have their own app created by tip411.
“We still want to remind people that this will not replace filing a police report and will not be the place to notify the Forest Lake Police Department of an active situation that requires a police response or report,” Carlson said. “And it certainly does not replace 911 for emergencies or non-emergencies.”