The Boston Police Department has reached a certain level of enlightenment, increasing the functionality of its crime tip line to include text messages. The move is part of the department’s efforts to reach out to today’s youth, offering them a safe and sheltered method of imparting knowledge of crimes or crime scenes without fear of reprisals, which might accompany in-person tips or testimony.
We haven’t heard a lot about this sort of thing, which makes us wonder why not. It certainly is happening in the greater Los Angeles area, where police accept photos from crime scenes as well. Other police departments allow email crime reports, as long as they’re verified. But why not text messages, which are available to millions of people as a matter of course? That is the question.
One possible drawback in this “we’ll keep your privacy” thing is that text messages can be traced, just like phone calls from land lines. Informants should keep that in mind. That’s a concern but not a large one, since police departments like the ones in Boston and L.A. are merely looking for the most information they can possibly get from the widest number of sources. In most cases, its the passerby who have the most accurate information.