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It’s been four years since Gila Valley residents have been able to anonymously text tips to local law enforcement agencies and officials would like to see more people use the program.

Back in 2016, Kathy Grimes with the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition came to the Graham County Sheriff’s Office with an idea, said Scott Howell, communications system supervisor.

Grimes had heard about a program being used throughout the U.S. called Text a Tip. The program allowed people to anonymously text their local law enforcement agency about drug-related activity without fear of retribution.

Graham County decided to implement the program, but widen its scope, Howell said. Dispatchers receive tips via texts and emails and then forwards them to the appropriate law enforcement agency with the Gila Valley.

“We receive about 100 texts a year and the reasons vary from people who are complaining about barking dogs to loud parties to kids playing in the street,” Howell said.

Although he can’t recall a time when a tip has resulted in an arrest, Howell said officers and deputies have been able to handle situations that have come up.

Howell said that unfortunately, there have been times when people have not left enough information for officers and deputies to follow up on and since there’s no two-way communication they can’t call to ascertain what they need to move forward.

People should text as much information as they have, but especially the address, he said.

People should also remember to call 911 to report crimes emergencies and crimes that are in progress, Howell said. Texting instead creates delays.

To report abuse, vandalism, illegal drugs, underage drinking, etc. text: GRAHAMTIP to 79516 and then type the information they’d like to provide.

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