S 956

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 956

To establish a pilot program for police departments to use anonymous texts from citizens to augment their anonymous tip hotlines.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 11, 2011

Mr. KERRY introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To establish a pilot program for police departments to use anonymous texts from citizens to augment their anonymous tip hotlines.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Text a Tip Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. A PILOT PROGRAM FOR TEXTING CRIME TIPS.

    (a) In General- The Attorney General may make grants to State or local police departments to implement an anonymous tip program using cell phone text messaging that comply with the requirements of this Act.

    (b) Use of Funds- A State or local police department that receives a grant under this Act shall use amounts provided under the grant to develop, implement, or expand the anonymous tip system using cell phone text messaging which may include payment of the following expenses:

      (1) Salaries, personnel, training, technology, and other costs directly related to the operation of the program, including reward money.

      (2) Promotion of the program including public service announcements, printed advertisements, and other forms of marketing.

    (c) Federal Share- The Federal share of a grant under this Act shall not exceed 75 percent of the cost of the program.

    (d) Supplement and Not Supplant- Grant amounts received under this Act shall be used to supplement, and not supplant, non-Federal funds that would otherwise be available for activities funded under this Act.

SEC. 3. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.

    A texting tip program eligible for a grant under this Act shall comply with the following requirements:

      (1) A State or local police department shall administer the program.

      (2) The incoming text messages shall be stripped of any identifying information before it is transmitted to the police through a verifiable technology or third party.

      (3) The text tip shall not be traceable by any means.

      (4) The texting program shall not replace any existing 1-800 tip hotlines.

      (5) The police department shall train sufficient personnel to intercept and respond to the text tips.

      (6) The police department shall, to the extent possible, make this program compatible with most mobile phone providers.

      (7) The texting program should include an unidentifiable code that can be given to the tipster if they want to send follow up information to the police, allowing for increased continuity and more accurate information.

      (8) The texting program shall include a feature to abort a tip while it is in the process of being given.

      (9) The grantee shall not impose any additional fees on the tipster's mobile phone. Only standard messaging rates from the tipster's mobile phone provider shall apply.

      (10) The police shall, to the extent possible, promote the texting program to encourage citizens, especially youth, to participate in the program.

SEC. 4. APPLICATIONS.

    (a) In General- To request a grant under this Act, a State or local police department shall submit an application to the Department of Justice in such form and containing such information as the department may reasonably require.

    (b) Certifications- Each application for a grant under this Act shall contain the certification of the State or local police department that the program for which the grant is requested meets each of the requirements of this Act.

SEC. 5. REPORTS AND EVALUATIONS.

    (a) Recipients- For each fiscal year, each recipient of a grant under this Act during that fiscal year shall submit to the Attorney General a report on a date specified by the Attorney General--

      (1) regarding the effectiveness of activities carried out using that grant; and

      (2) including an evaluation in such form and containing such information as the Attorney General may reasonably require.

    (b) Attorney General- The Attorney General shall submit a yearly report on the effectiveness on the activities carried out under this Act to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) The term `texting tip program' means a program that--

        (A) allows citizens to text tips anonymously to the police to aid in criminal justice;

        (B) strips texts of identifying information; and

        (C) is used by the police to prevent and solve crimes.

      (2) The term `texting' means sending written messages from a mobile phone. Texts is the plural form of text messages.

SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There are authorized to be appropriated to the Attorney General to carry out this Act $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2017.

END