United States Marshal William “Bill” Berger and the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force announces a new way to help catch murderers, kidnappers, armed robbers, gang members and other violent criminals – you can now text your tips.
Beginning May 1st, people will no longer have to call a phone number which may lead to an answering machine or rely on someone passing a message along to an investigator in hopes that they will get the message and call back. Now, the public will be able to send a text regarding the whereabouts of a specific fugitive right to the case investigator.
What’s so advantageous to the tipster texting? For one, it’s anonymous. Also, they choose to start and end the texting when they want as well as there are often rewards for apprehension for many of the fugitives. The rewards can be anywhere from $250 up to $10,000. There is an advantage for the investigators as well. They can now have direct contact with tipsters that may lead to better and more detailed information. Frank Chiumento, the Commander who oversees the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force (FRFTF) Headquarters Office which is located in Orlando, states that can make a big difference in catching the wanted felons faster keeping the community safer.
“Anytime there is open communication between people, the information flows better and can be constantly updated, says Chiumento. “Just as fast as the fugitives change their hideouts, we can have that information just as quickly.”
Last year, the FRFTF arrested more than 5,000 fugitives and cleared nearly 6,000 warrants in Florida. The Fort Myers Division of the FRFTF arrested over 450 fugitives alone.
In addition to the FRFTF, federal district courts will also be participating in this new method of fugitive hunting and highlighting violent federal fugitives as well. Neil DeSousa, Acting U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Florida feels this way about the new website and its usefulness.
“The US Marshals Service has historically sought and captured dangerous fugitives since the inception of the Agency. Now, we have transcended into a new era where more dangerous fugitives are utilizing technology to evade capture. Therefore, with the combined efforts of law enforcement we can and must use advanced tools and technology to apprehend them.”
Although the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force is the first Regional or Congressionally funded task force using the new system, it is not the first in the U.S. Marshals Service to implement the program. The Northern District of Ohio U.S. Marshals Office was the first office when they began using it late last year. Since then, several other District Offices around the country have started using the Tips411 platform.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of a known fugitive can simply text “TIP411” or “847411” and enter the key word “USMFL”. They can also visit the FRFTF’s Web site at:
http://www.usmarshals.gov/investigations/taskfrcs/rftfs/florida/index.html, or go to the US Marshals Web site: www.usmarshals.gov, click on “Apprehending Fugitives”, and then “Fugitive Task Forces” where a link can be found for the FRFTF’s web page.