Middleton police texting to solve crimes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Middleton police texting to solve crimes

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MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The Middleton Police Department is utilizing a text messaging service to help solve crimes.

During the beginning of October, they began using Zipwhip, a service which allows the police to receive and send text messages from their lane line to people's cell phones. It's for sending non-emergency information, and the public has already helped police with two cases -- finding a hit-and-run driver and preventing a possible suicide.

"We put information [about the hit-and-run incident] out on Facebook, along with the fact that we had this new text service that we were testing out. We asked people if they had any information about this vehicle to contact us and let us know, and we got four text messages right away," Sergeant Barry Reynolds, of the Middleton Police, said.

One of them came from  Angela Ross, who knew who the driver was. She first tried to call Middleton Police.

"I was watching the Packer game, and during the half time, they'd done a cut-in and talked about this crime. I tried to call and the line was busy, busy, busy. So finally I said, well, it said I could text, so I did," Ross said.

"Texting is a speed device. That's really what the tool is for. And I think that really plays into the idea that our society now sees texting as a form of instant communication," Madison College social media expert Steve Knoll said.

Middleton Police say they can also send text messages to the public.  

"We also had a dispatcher use it in a very innovative way: to check someone's welfare," Reynolds said. "They wouldn't respond to the door, wouldn't respond to phone calls, we had the dispatcher send them a text from our land line police dept phone and they came out and talked to the officers right away."

Reynolds says that Middleton Police are the first agency in the U.S. to use this type of land line-to-mobile technology to do police work.

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