Fighting crime doesn't necessarily require a cape – in fact, now it just takes a smartphone.
UT Police Department announced recently that students will now have access to an app, UTPDTips, that allows the public to partner with police by sending anonymous crime tips.
The service also permits police to have bilateral communication with the individual who sent the tip.
UTPDTips will aid pre-existing text and phone services and also allow photos to be uploaded. Individuals can download this app on both iPhone and Android devices.
However, some students fear the app's easy access might have negative consequences.
"People might (text) more flippantly," said Logan Nester, a junior in environmental and mechanical engineering. "It increases the likelihood for false report without any consequences."
Addressing these concerns, Cedric Roach, sergeant in the Community Relations Unit, said app users could make false police reports before the app was introduced.
"Most people use this technology in the correct way it was intended," Roach said. "The benefits outweigh the potential negative consequences."
When submitting a tip, app users are identified to the police by a number assigned to their anonymous tip. If false information is received repeatedly from a sender, police can track the number and ignore the report.
Students like Fatima Murillo, a senior in biosystems engineering, said he believes the anonymity granted by the app will help it work successfully.
"I think people would be more inclined to give feedback if they knew that their identity was protected," Murillo said. "For example, someone who would endanger somebody, like someone with a weapon. People wouldn't want to say anything about it, because personal safety would be at risk."
Other anonymous reporting apps are helping aid police, including the Suspicious Activity Reporting Application, which the state of West Virginia uses.
The app tip service will not replace dialing 911 in case of emergency. Anonymous text messages can be sent to the UTPD by texting a message to 847411 (tip411) with the keyword UTPD.