Niles City Police Chief Jim Millin points out the location of a crime that occurred in Niles using a newly installed program called CrimeReports. The program allows users to view crimes that have occurred in Niles and submit anonymous tips online. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Niles PD fights crime online

Published 5:21pm Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can an online software program help police fight crime?

Niles City Police Chief Jim Millin says he believes so.

Late last month, Niles City Police launched an online program that allows users to learn about crimes that have occurred in their community. The program, called CrimeReports, is an interactive online map containing icons that represent crimes that have occurred in the area. Users can click on the icon to find out more details about the incident, such as the time, location and nature of the crime.

Accessing the program is as easy as going to the website — crimereports.com — and typing in Niles, Michigan in the search box.

Millin said incidents are updated every day at midnight.

“It is an informative way for citizens to know what is going on in the neighborhood and the city,” Millin said.

Included is another program called TipSoft, which allows users to submit anonymous tips online. Users can submit tips by clicking on a specific crime on the CrimeReports map, or by using the TipSoft website. Tips are sent almost immediately to law enforcement personnel.

“A lot of people are hesitant to get involved because they feel like their name is going to be out there,” Millin said. “With TipSoft, when somebody submits a tip it is routed through a server in Canada and then back to us. The reason for that is to keep their anonymity. We can’t get that information, so all tips are confidential.”

Niles Police signed a three-year contract to use the program, which is run by a company based in Utah. It costs about $2,400 a year and is funded completely by money seized through drug dealers.

People can use CrimeReports from their smart phone by downloading a free CrimeReports application. People can also use their cell phone’s text messaging to send tips. Detailed instructions on how to use the programs are available on the CrimeReports and TipSoft websites.

Users can also register to receive email notifications on crimes occurring in their area.

Other law enforcement agencies in the area using one or both of the programs include the Cass County Sheriff’s Dept., Berrien Springs and Benton Harbor, said Niles Police Officer Chad Mitchell.

Millin said Niles Police have already received a few tips through TipSoft since starting the program last month.

Millin said a link to CrimeReports and TipSoft websites would be offered soon through the City of Niles website, ci.niles.mi.us.

Editor's Picks