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Official urges residents to report crime

COVINGTON - District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons is urging his constituents to keep an eye out for illegal activity and report it, via an anonymous tip line, to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

Simmons said he has received numerous calls from residents in his district regarding activities they are concerned about but may not want to get directly involved in reporting.

"The anonymous tip line is really a line people can call in if they see suspicious activity or something that authorities need to know about in order for them to facilitate an investigation or start an investigation or look into something suspicious," Simmons said.

Simmons has been putting signs out throughout the district featuring McGruff the Crime Dog and the tip line number, 678-625-5007.

"We have just over 15,000 people in the district, and there have been a lot of acts reported in the news, a lot of crime reported last year, and we have to let people know we want to be proactive and we want to be safe," he said.

Simmons said he has received complaints from neighbors about "kids breaking into cars and roaming around after hours," problems they wouldn't necessarily want to report to 911.

He said a lot of people want the problems to stop but often don't want to put their names on a report.

Anonymous tips can be reported to the Sheriff's Office via phone or e-mail, said Lt. Bill Watterson, public information officer for the NCSO.

"We encourage people to call in on any type of criminal activity that they might not want to be known for reporting, whether it be domestic violence, drug activity, speeding autos or trespassing," Watterson said. "We do receive a wide variety of anonymous tips. Most refer to locations of wanted people, drug activity and speeding autos. Those are the main three categories."

The tips are reviewed by Sheriff Joe Nichols and forwarded on to the NCSO's traffic division or criminal investigation division, Watterson said.

Watterson gave assurance that the tips are truly anonymous.

"We've had some people very upset with us because we didn't call or respond. There's no way to respond because the computer system is set up to redact any names as far as e-mails," Watterson said.

Those who want a response should include contact information in the body of the e-mail or leave that information on the anonymous tip line.

"I think it is a great tool that citizens have, and it does open up communication between the community and law enforcement. Once again, I urge anybody who has information to give us a call," Watterson said.

To give a tip via e-mail, go to the Newton County Sheriff's Web site and click on "Anonymous Tip Line."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.