New police program provides anonymity for tipsters

The SMU Police Department has developed a new program that allows campus community members to report troubling activity and maintain their own privacy.

The University’s new Silent Witness Tips Line – 214-768-2TIP (2847) – allows individuals to leave information anonymously regarding suspicious or criminal activity on campus. Tipsters also have the option of sending an anonymous e-mail through the Silent Witness web form. Read more.

SMU’s Police Department defines “suspicious activity” as any activity or person that seems out of the ordinary or is known to be criminal, says Sgt. Christine Baca Rodriguez. “It includes everything from drug activity and underage drinking to hazing, assaults, weapons possession and inappropriate behavior,” Rodriguez says.

The Silent Witness program may also be used by individuals who are either a witness to or victim of a crime. The online form is sent directly to the campus police communications division, while the phone line is checked throughout each dispatcher’s shift for new messages.

When SMU police receive an anonymous tip, the department first will attempt to verify the information. If the tip is verified, appropriate actions are taken depending on the individual situation, Rodriguez says.

“In some cases, a tip may not have enough substantial information to warrant an investigation,” she says. However, the Police Department will maintain the information and may use it to establish more directed or saturated patrols, she adds.

The department does not recommend using the Silent Witness phone number or e-mail form for distress calls or to report any life-threatening situation, Rodriguez says. “Community members should use 911 in these types of emergencies to get immediate and real-time response.” Community members may also call the SMU Police Department at 214-768-3388.

Posters and wallet cards containing information on the Silent Witness program are available from the SMU Police Department. To inquire about these materials or learn more about the program, contact Sgt. Christine Baca Rodriguez, 8-1582.