HPD offers suggestions for using the tip line

January 13, 2019

HUNTINGTON — With 145 arrests made in 2018 by 136 investigations started or pushed forward by the Huntington Police Department’s anonymous tip line, Huntington Police Capt. Rocky Johnson has offered tips for leaving information that could help the number increase this year.

Tip line callers will not speak with an individual. Instead, an audio recording will be made of what activity was witnessed. As it sometimes takes more than eight hours to check the information, an emergency should not be reported on the line and callers should contact 911 if they need immediate help.

The tip line is anonymous, so callers will never be asked to leave their name, a phone number or address.

Johnson said callers should be as specific as possible when making a tip. Describe who and what was seen at what time and what location as well as allegations of illegal activity. A detailed account of how a person is entering a home or what vehicle activity happens at the location can go a long way, he said.

“Like a car pulls up, you’ll see three or four more cars pull up at the house and then leave,” he said. “That’s the kind of information. We need specific times you see, and that’s what we’re now getting. It used to be we would get, ‘There’s a guy in a red hat and the green house on the corner. I think he’s selling drugs.’”

That last example was not detailed enough to get a warrant, Johnson said.

As a better example, he used a call in which a caller described a black car that shows up with two guys with a duffel bag who enter through the front of a home. Traffic around the house would then pick up for a couple hours, with individuals entering through the front of a home and exiting through another door, before traffic at the home died down.

“You’d be surprised what can break a case,” he said. “I mean, it would be something as simple as, ‘Hey, this red car keeps coming here,’ when we can’t figure out what red car is in another case.”

The more information left, the belter chance the drug unit will have to open an investigation, obtain a search warrant and be successful in shutting down the situation, he said.

Johnson said callers should never risk their own safety or insert themselves in the situation at hand to get information for the tip line. As an example, he said while it might seem getting a license plate number would “crack” a case wide open, it isn’t as important as it may seem since dealers often don’t keep vehicles in their own names.

The tip line can be reached at 304-696-4444.

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