(Courtesy Portage County Crime Stoppers)

DYK? You can report crime tips via smartphone app

By Patrick Lynn

Did you know that you can anonymously report criminal activity?

Portage County Crime Stoppers is part of an app-based crime tip service called P3. The nonprofit organization joined the app service in 2019.

“It’s very interactive, so immediately, whenever the tip is called in through the call center, or through P3, a designated individual from each office—Plover, the sheriff’s office, and Stevens Point police—get these tips and can respond right away,” Sheriff Mike Lukas said.

The P3 app can be downloaded for free for both Android and Apple devices.

Before the app was launched, the county took 50-75 crime tips annually and pays out $2000-$5,000 in reward money. In the two weeks following launch of the app, it received 60 tips from the public.

The app makes reporting tips more accessible to young people. Crime Stoppers offers a $50 cash reward for young people reporting substance-related or violent crimes inside local schools via its “Quick 50” program.

Crime Stoppers is not an emergency tip line, Lukas said, so crimes in progress should be reported to the Portage Co. Dispatch Center by calling 911. Tipsters can still remain anonymous, but the new app makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to share information between counties.

Craig Giese, president of the Portage County Crime Stoppers, said there was an initial cost to get the app set up, but it was raised entirely with donations from the community.

“It was a group effort to get this pulled off,” Giese said, adding the group would hang posters around the community to help spread awareness.

Portage County Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization created in 1996 and not officially affiliated with county government. The board consists of 14 civilian members, who administer all payouts and the operation of the organization and has three non-voting law enforcement members.

Outside the app, tips can still be reported by calling (888) 346-6600, via the Portage Co. website, by sending a message on Facebook, or by United State Mail at Portage County Crime Stoppers, 1500 Strongs Ave., Stevens Point, Wis., 54481.