CHICAGO POLICE HEADQUARTERS — Police have unveiled an anonymous, online tip line they hope can help them solve crimes and put an end to the no-snitch "code of silence."
The department, which has been pushing for technology upgrades to help fight crime, is also creating a Bureau of Technical Services. That bureau will be focused on helping officers use "smarter policing strategies throughout the department" with the help of technology, representatives said during a Friday news conference.
"This is a start of what we will be expanding throughout the department as technology" evolves, said Jonathan Lewin, deputy chief of the Bureau of Support Services.
People can use their phone, a computer or other device to go to CPDTip.com, where they can fill out a form to send a tip to officers starting Friday. Submitters can choose to be anonymous, police said, and the line will be monitored 24/7.
A glimpse at new, anonymous online police tip service pic.twitter.com/mjVd3DFSXL— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) April 21, 2017
The service — and the anonymity it can provide — could play a significant role in ending the "code of silence," which keeps people from telling police about crimes because they fear reprisal, Lewin said.
Chicago is the first police department to roll out this new tip service, Lewin said.
"We're asking the community: Take a look," said a CrimeStopper representative, who added tips leading to an arrest can mean a reward up to $1,000 for the tipster. "You never know what piece of information is put together will solve the crime and get that offender off the street."
A similar service called text-2-tip has been in place since 2008, allowing people to text tips to police. That service has become "arcane," Lewin said, though police will keep it while using ChicagoTip.com to ensure people without smart phones can still submit tips. Text-2-tip gets about 1500 tips per year.
Police have credited recent successes — like a year-over-year drop in violence in March — to technology changes in the Englewood and Harrison police districts. The districts have also been using technology that can help officers respond to shootings more quickly, and plan how to prevent retaliatory violence. They pointed to that drop in violence again while announcing the Bureau of Technical Assistance.
That same technology should be in the Deering, Ogden, Gresham and Austin districts by late summer, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in March.