By Brandi Makuski
Portage County Crime Stoppers has made a giant leap into the 21st century, and on Thursday announced it’s participation in a new app-based crime tip service called P3.
Portage Co. Sheriff Mike Lukas made the announcement during a special press conference on June 13.
“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.”
The P3 app can be downloaded for free for both Android and Apple devices.
Portage County Crime Stoppers joined the app service about two weeks ago, and with an early advertisement in the Point/Plover Metro Wire’s print edition, Wired In, the organization had “over 20 tips in the first week.”
“It’s been a very impressive response, and it’s very user-friendly,” Lukas said.
Before the app was launched, the county took 50-75 crimes tips annually and pays out $2000-$5,000 in reward money. As of June 13, he said, the county had already taken 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.
“It also takes the onus off our own communications center, which right now is taking those calls,” Lukas said.
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.