Local law enforcement agencies have launched a new tip program for Crimestoppers and it has already netted at least one local arrest.

On Friday, Luna County Sheriff's Office Lt. John Mooridian announced that a new TipSoft program had been in place for about a month and a tip had resulted in one arrest. The system allows locals to submit tips to Crimestoppers without having the tip go through Luna County Central Dispatch.

You might recall that in 2012, two central dispatch employees resigned after it was discovered a tip they had received was leaked to the suspect mentioned in the tip.

"That's what sparked it," he said. "I was asked to look into it."

Crimestoppers member Betty Anne Straus said the group is "very excited" to have the system in place.

Now, with TipSoft, a committee has been formed with representatives from the LCSO, Deming Police Department and the New Mexico State Police. When a local submits a tip to TipSoft, it is electronically sent to a location in Canada, where it is stripped of any identifying information to protect the person who submitted the tip's identity. The tip is then sent, via email, to the TipSoft committee members.

Once the law enforcement officials receive a tip, they can communicate with local agencies to decide who, if anyone, should pursue investigating the tip. Captain Robert Gomez of Deming's NMSP office said the agencies will discuss if anyone is already investigating the issue or which agency would be most appropriate to handle the tip.


He added that a tip does not necessarily constitute probable cause for law enforcement to take action. He said the context of the tip and the information it contains is most important. As an example, he said a tip about a drunk driver would give police a reason to find the vehicle to observe signs of drunk driving, but a tip that a person down the street is selling drugs does not mean the police can just go search the person without other pieces of information to build probable cause.

A unique feature of the program means that someone who submits a tip to police can be engaged after the fact to get more information. Police are able to chat with an individual via text messaging without either person knowing the identity of the other. TipSoft has mobile applications for Android and iPhones called TipSubmit. Users can also use the Internet or the Crimestoppers hotline, (575) 546-7800, to submit tips.

To submit a tip online, visit www.lunacountynm.us. To text a tip, send the message to 274673 with the word "LUNATIP" in the message field before the actual tip.

Mooridian is encouraging as many locals as possible to visit www.tipsoft.com and register your phone number into Luna County's system. That way, those who are registered can receive emergency notices, such as for a missing child or extreme weather alerts.

The cost to begin the program was about $400 and there is a $1,200 annual fee for participation. The city and county are splitting the cost.

Matt Robinson can be reached at mrobinson@demingheadlight.com