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Border patrol deploys new weapon along U.S.-Canada border: texting

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is asking residents, campers, hunters and hikers alike to send anonymous text messages to the agency reporting any suspicious people they come across while enjoying the U.S. border with Canada border. This is the first time such a program has been used.

The pilot program, announced June 6, is for the border area that runs from the Cascade Range in Washington to the Continental Divide in Montana. The CBP believes that the public can be instrumental in helping the 200 agents on patrol secure the rough and barely populated area.

The Spokane Sector Border Patrol teamed up with Anderson Software, a law enforcement tip management software and web applications company headquartered in Nacogdoches, TX, to provide the new service.

“The popularity of text messaging has created a significant opportunity for the public to assist the Border Patrol in combating cross-border crime and smuggling,” said Tim York, the Spokane sector’s acting chief patrol agent. “The ability for any citizen who owns a mobile phone to assist in accomplishing our mission of securing America’s borders is of great importance and we are excited to play a pivotal role in the transmission of these crime fighting tips.”

TipSoft Text Tips was built to allow text-messaging informants anonymity by encrypting the text messages and routing them through numerous secure servers, protecting the informant’s personal details. The service also allows law enforcement to respond, through two-way dialog, with the tipster without ever knowing the identity of the individual who left the tip by giving the user’s information an alias and a unique ID before being sent. TipSoft is currently in use by the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Canadian police departments.

In addition to texting, the agency is pushing a companion service that allows people to send tips through tipsubmit.com.

The text service, which is now active, can be used by sending a text with the word “borderline” to CRIMES (274637).

On May 28, GSN: Government Security News asked what was being done to keep the border with Canada safe.

“With America’s resources focused on the south GSN: Government Security News, asks who is watching the border to the north?” the story began. “On May 22 Richard Fadden, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), announced that his country – which shares the world’s longest border in the world with the U.S. – was tracking hundreds of people linked to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations within Canada’s borders.”

“In a rare appearance from the Canadian spymaster, Fadden stated before a parliamentary committee, “‘Confronting the threat from al Qaeda, its affiliates and its adherents remains our number one priority. As of this month CSIS is investigating over 200 individuals in this country whose activities meet the official definition of terrorism,’” the story added.


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