The Abbeville Police Department is putting the power to solve crimes in the hands of community members with a new anonymous reporting mobile app.

The app allows users to submit tips and media, including photo and video evidence, to the police department while shielding their identity. The Abbeville PD app screens the tipster’s information before submission and assigns a random assortment of numbers and letters to the tip, so the police never know who the tipster is or where they’re submitting from, according to a video from app developer tip411.

After the tip is received and assigned to an officer, the officer can respond to the tip through the app to collect more information about the reported incident if needed. Neither the officer nor the tipster’s information will be revealed during the two-way conversation, tip411 said.

“Only together, can we keep Abbeville safe,” Chief Bill Spearman said in a statement. “Working together, we are more likely to make lasting improvements in the safety of our community, I believe the new Abbeville PD app from tip411 will help better connect our department to our residents.”

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The app also connects users to the police department’s Facebook page, website and alert messaging system. On the alerts page, the department can notify the community about specific crime incidents, wanted individuals or ongoing emergencies. Each alert will include an “add a tip” button where residents can report if they have information about the publicized crimes.

The app is free and available for download through the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, the Abbeville Police Department website or the department’s Facebook page. If you don’t have a smartphone, the new tip line can also accept text message submissions. Users can text 847411 with the keyword “APDTIPS” and their tip, a department release said.

Lt. Jonathan Touchet, the department’s spokesperson, will be hosting two community meetings to roll out the app and answer residents’ questions while also discussing Neighborhood Watch programs and other general safety tips.

The two meetings are scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the meeting room next to the Vermilion Parish Chamber of Commerce at 1907 Veterans Memorial Drive and Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Vermilion Parish Library in Abbeville at 405 E. Saint Victor St.

The app is one of several recent efforts encouraging residents to help combat crime in the Vermilion Parish city. Spearman said the department has struggled with community transparency as unknown bad actors push community members to withhold evidence and information in criminal investigations.

Spearman said at an August news conference the department is also launching a “Camera Club” for residents to anonymously send the department video footage if they’re uncomfortable with officers coming to their home or interviewing them. Footage from cellphones and surveillance cameras can be downloaded onto a disc or flash drive and mailed to the department, he said.

Participants don’t need to provide a return address on the envelope but should include a note it’s for the “Camera Club,” he said.

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Email Katie Gagliano at kgagliano@theadvocate.com