Members of the campus community now have the power to combat crime right at their fingertips.
The UT police department has partnered with messaging service Tip411 to provide a way for students and faculty to anonymously report any suspicious activity on or around campus to the university police. This new crime reporting tool debuted in time for the fall semester.
"We receive the messages through an email the vendor provides us, so we can keep a dialogue with the reporter," Troy Lane, UTPD chief of police, said.
This filter allows the law enforcement agents to sift out extraneous reports and only respond to the important ones, making the system prankster proof.
Once a tip has been logged, UTPD officers evaluate the situation and choose the appropriate response.
"It just depends on what the issue is," Lane said. "We can send out a squad car right at that moment."
Other responses to a tip include posting it on a Facebook page or sending out a mass email to keep all students informed and aware of local threats.
The university's previous system of reporting suspicious activity was less technologically advanced. It was based solely on email, and it was a one way system to preserve the anonymity of the person reporting the crime. In comparison, the Tip411 texting system is easier, more anonymous and increases response time.
The convenience of the system relies on a platform that most students have access to: a cell phone. Easy access to the system maximizes the chances of a student reporting a crime the police might not have otherwise known about.
Students are not the only target audience for the new text-based tip system.
"The service will be a boon for all faculty at UT," Emily Simerly, UTPD deputy chief, said.
Lane and Simerly both believe that without this system, the university would be missing the dominant, cell phone-toting demographic on campus.
Through personal experience in his previous position as the police chief for the University of Wyoming's campus police, Lane touts the reliability of Tip411 and the anonymous messaging service. The system has been in operation for two weeks.
To report any criminal or suspicious activity, text the keyword "UTPD" and your message to Tip411 (847411).