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Newton County Sheriff's Office unveils Gang Tip Line for anonymous tips

COVINGTON — The Newton County Sheriff’s Office has unveiled a new resource for the public to communicate anonymously about possible gang activity in the community.

The Gang Tip Line is now available for members of the public to learn more about gang activity and to report any suspicious activity.

NCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Carter said this new site is valuable not only for the Sheriff’s Office to develop more and better intelligence on gang activity in Newton County, but it also will help investigators stay in front of any developing issues.

“We’ve always been keeping information of this nature, but this will help us take a more proactive approach,” he said.

Sheriff Ezell Brown described the new site as combining “old-fashioned police work with 21st century technology.”

“The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is committed to reducing suspected and actual gang activity in the county through shared expertise, intelligence and manpower,” he said.

The Gang Tip Line is found on the homepage of the Sheriff’s Office website, www.newtonsheriffga.org, under the Quick Links section on the right-hand side of the page. To access the Gang Tip Line, click on “Gang Information,” which will navigate to the site.

From there, users have three options to submit an anonymous tip: through a laptop or personal computer using the TipSoft link, via text message, or with a smartphone or tablet using the TipSubmit app. Derrick Barnes, webmaster with the NCSO, said the smartphone app works best if in an area with a strong WiFi signal. If not, he said users can use the text messaging service.

The site offers detailed instructions on how to submit a tip and explains how the source of the information remains anonymous through encrypted software.

When providing a tip, tipsters enter as much or as little information as they would like into an online form. For instance, tipsters can provide identifying information about a suspect — what he is wearing, if he has any tattoos, where he is known to hang out, etc.

Tipsters can also provide information about a suspicious vehicle, if they have seen suspicious activity, as well as upload photos.

After filling out as much detail as possible — and from an investigative perspective, the more the better — users will be prompted to accept terms and conditions that assure the tipster that his name and address will remain anonymous unless the tipster chooses to reveal his identity.

After submitting the form, tipsters are given an identification number that they use to communicate with the deputies and investigators assigned to work on gang-related incidents. Tipsters will use that ID number and a password to log back into the system and update any information or communicate in real-time with a deputy.

From the Sheriff’s Office side, the information provided by tipsters will be analyzed by NCSO’s crime analyst to determine trends or upticks in suspicious activity in any area. That information is then relayed to deputies and investigators.

Also included on the NCSO Gang Tip Line site is a link to another site, Gangs Or Us at www.gangsorus.org, that provides a vast amount of information about different kinds of gangs, their activities, their characteristics, as well as hoaxes and urban legends surrounding gangs.

“The Gang Tip Line site is a way for citizens to become more educated about gangs and gang activities,” said Sgt. Robert Gaddy. “The public needs to know what is going on in their community, and this helps strengthen the relationship between the citizens and the Sheriff’s Office.”

Capt. Keith Crum with the criminal investigations division said “neighborhood involvement and parental involvement is key.

“Citizens see more what is going on in their neighborhoods than we will and their information will help us follow up on these kinds of activities,” he said.

By providing this anonymous online system, information can be shared discreetly between residents and the Sheriff’s Office.

“Some people may be apprehensive to share information when they live in the same neighborhood,” Crum said.

Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators plan to spread the word about the Gang Tip Line by visiting neighborhood watch organizations throughout the county.

For more information, visit www.newtonsheriffga.org or contact Sgt. Gaddy at 678-625-1429 or via email at bgaddy@newtonsheriffga.org.

Anyone experiencing technical issues with the site can contact webmaster Derrick Barnes at dbarnes@newtonsheriffga.org.