Lexington police launched a new way crime tips can be reported anonymously Thursday, via text.
Those with tips will be now able to message LEXPD and their tip to CRIMES ( 274637) and receive a response from investigators in close to real-time. Victims advocate groups and police said the program would appeal to younger people and work to fight “snitch culture.”
Detective Mark Thomas, coordinator for Bluegrass Crime Stoppers, said the outgoing messages would go through a third party outside of their jurisdiction before coming in with an alias attached to the sender’s number.
Thomas said anonymous tips are valuable. Those tips brought in about 118 felon fugitives and paid out more than $30,000 in 2015. As of April, 47 felon fugitives have been brought in.
People like Anita Franklin have reaped the benefits of those tips.
Franklin’s 21-year-old son Antonio was shot and killed Duncan Park in April 2014. Her son’s case was aided by an anonymous tip. But she said many people in her community “are afraid to make phone calls.”
“There are too many crimes that go unsolved because someone is afraid or they fail to reveal something that they witnessed,” Franklin said.
Chief Mark Barnard said he believes people want to come forward with crime tips but are afraid to talk to police.
The family of Kwame El-Amin, who was shot during a basketball tournament in June 2015 in Douglass park, said Thursday it’s something they’ve experienced first-hand.
“I think people would be surprised by how often people stop us and say ‘I think I know who did it,’ Oluwatoyin El-Amin, Kwame’s sister, said. El-Amin said she thinks people want to talk because a lot of people liked her brother, but don’t want to talk to the police.
“I think it’s two different worlds,” Ahenewa El-Amin, another sister, said.
Though Advocates say texting appeals to young people, mistrust of the police is not generational. Latosha Reynolds of the group Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun violence (SWAG) said she’s hoping
“I think if we keep advocating and pushing for it then it will get better, but the barrier is so big and so thick with the community and the police,” said Latosha Reynolds said.
When they see that