COS police using anonymous text messages to fight crime

VISALIA, California

Administrators at COS say people are texting now more than ever before. With that in mind they launched a brand new crime tip line that allows students to send text messages, and still remain anonymous.

Just two weeks into starting the new "TipNow" text messaging crime tip line ... campus police at College of the Sequoias learned just how valuable the system is.

Chief Robert Masterson said, "Most recently on our campus we received a text an anonymous text that someone on campus had a gun the texter provided us with a description of the suspect it told us he was wearing a white tee shirt black pants."

After several text messages back and forth, officers arrested 21-year-old student, David Lee Garcia, on felony weapons charges. It turns out Garcia was also on felony probation for a previous burglary conviction.

Chief Robert Masterson says the student who tipped off police was probably right near the suspect and was still able to remain completely anonymous.

"It's also a way for people to do it quietly or anonymously in a group they can sit there and text a message to us and nobody knows what they're doing whereas if they're speaking on the phone someone can overhear their conversation," said Chief Masterson.

The system protects identities by acting as a middleman between the message creator and police. Students text the tip to a local number, which then gets processed by resigelence, the company operating the TipNow system.

Chief Masterson explained, "It goes to the company it's stored in the company's database they change it into an anonymous assigned number it's usually an alpha and then four digits and then it's forwarded to us and that's all we know the tipster by this five digit number."

Many students we talked to say this new system makes them feel safer on campus. Students can also call the tip number to leave an anonymous voicemail for campus police.

The suspect charged with bringing the gun on campus has been released on bail but is not allowed on campus until those charges have been cleared.

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.