Text messages serve as crime fighting tool

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It's a day and time when most people have a cell phone, and many more choose to send a text rather than call. But beyond the "LOLs" and "OMGs" the Kentucky State Police are hoping to turn the text messages into a crime fighting tool.

"Everybody has smart phones today," stated Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton, who has seen success with his department after starting a 24/7 text line last year.

"We get a lot of information that I don't think we'd get had we not started the "Text a Tip" line."

This week, KSP announced they will start up their on tip line through a third party server that will encrypt the tipsters identity.

Sheriff Melton said this method is a quick and easy tool that helps his office daily. Recently, his deputies have received text alerts that lead to the arrest of Chad Whitson for several burglary charges and another lead to Kyah Hale who had four outstanding warrants.

"It's real time, it happens right now, and when we get that, we have got to act and that's what's been crucial for us."

The KSP also expect this text line to provide even more anonymity because a person won't be seen talking on the phone, but rather sending a discreet text.

Sheriff Melton says that can make a big difference, "You can be sitting at a bar, or restaurant, or wherever and one of the most wanted will come up and you might be looking across there and say, "Oh my gosh, there's that guy!" All you have to do is text that (in)."

Although, a greater benefit the Sheriff points out is this line taps into a much larger resource: the public. Sheriff Melton explained that many agencies are understaffed and spread thin. His office has 19 sworn officers, 13 serve on patrol to cover 211 square miles, but the public can see and hear more than a deputy in a marked car.

"This expands our eyes in our community and when you can just go on your phone and text it and go "pop-pop-pop" and send it, what an opportunity!"

So whether it's a small Sheriff's office or a State Police post that covers several counties, this tip line has proven to Sheriff Melton that it can be a critical tool in protecting the community.

To text the Franklin County Sheriff's Office text 502-320-3306. The Kentucky State Police line is 67283, then type "KSPTIP" in the message field and then the tip.

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