Community invited to help solve crimes with tip line

June 4, 2013

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah Police Department is making a push for people to use its anonymous tip line.

In operation since 2008, the anonymous recording line has assisted in a number of investigations and arrests, according to Detective Diego Zanella. However, he said he believes the department can do a better job of engaging the public.

“The tips we get are really good, but they’re not enough,” he said. “It’s because people don’t know.”

Zanella expressed understanding about people who might have concerns or knowledge of crime in their area, but live in sensitive situations. Living next to suspicious neighbors would cause a single parent to hesitate about giving information to the police. Zanella said that he was aware of the fears people have, especially in areas with heightened crime rates.

“We know that there are some people that are not comfortable with talking to law enforcement, but they are good people,” he said. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can the people in our city be more involved with our police work and still be safe?’”

Inspired by the federal push of “if you see something, say something,” Zanella approached department heads and suggested they also set up a way to solicit information from the community. In 2011, they installed the tip line. It allows those who wish to remain anonymous to leave a message. It is regularly checked by dispatch and passed along to an officer.

Zanella wanted to stress how seriously the department takes anonymity.

“Just provide us with the information and our reports state that tips were given anonymously,” he said. “We don’t use names.”

Throughout the department, officers spoke with approval of the tip line and how the public could assist with police efforts. Sgt. Kevin Nash gave credit to Zanella for setting up the line and acknowledged that more promotion on its behalf could only help the department.

“We’ve had the tip line for a while, but it hasn’t been advertised,” he said. “We want the community to give us tips on any kind of crime. We have it and that is how we solve some of our crime.”

Such interaction with the public is something the police force has tried to stress lately. Recently, the city’s website has featured canyouid.me, a photo page of people the police are trying to contact that is viewable by everyone, with the hope for assistance in locating suspects.

“Hopefully, having it on the city’s website will get the public to use it,” Nash said about the tip line. “I’m looking forward to the calls coming in.”

“It’s not just because of the theory of community policing,” Zanella said about getting the public more involved with fighting crime. “It’s that it works.”

Call the tip line at 837-3210.

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