OAKLAND -- Police launched a service this week that allows anonymous tippers to text the department with information on criminal investigations.
Called Tip Watch, the service is provided by Nixle.com and gives investigators the ability to correspond with senders to ask for more information or let them know the results of a tip.
Tipsters cannot be identified by police or Nixle; the sender's information is encrypted and never available to any party when a message is sent, officials said.
A key reason the service was launched this week was the shooting deaths of five men over an 18-hour period on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the number of homicides in Oakland this year to 94.
Using the Nixle service, anonymous tipsters can provide police with information by the following means texting TIP OAKLANDPD to 888777 from a cell phone.
In addition, tips can be made anonymously by clicking on the "Tips button" on the department's website, http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/OPD , or by calling the Tip Watch hotline at 855-847-7247.
Another way of submitting anonymous tips is available by signing up for community messages and alerts at Nixle.com. Each received message or alert comes with the ability to reply with a related tip.
Police already have in place some phone numbers the public can call with information about cases where they can also remain anonymous. Those include a Major Crimes Unit tip line at 510-773-2508 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.