New tip service targets substance abuse

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BATH — A new text-a-tip service allows people to anonymously report underage drinking and drug use through text messages, a website or a mobile phone application.

The “eTip” service was unveiled April 10 by the Sagadahoc County and Cumberland County sheriff’s departments, and Brunswick, Bath, Topsham, Richmond and Phippsburg police.

There are three ways to submit tips:

• Text “eTip” along with the tip to 274637 (CRIMES).

• Download the free TipSubmit Mobile app for iPhone or Android smartphones.

• Or submit an online tip through midcoastcasa.org or the local police department’s website.

The tips are encrypted and immediately sent to the Sagadahoc County Dispatch Center, which passes them onto the appropriate police department.

“We have a lot of rural areas in our community where parties just aren’t noticed by neighbors,” Bath Police Chief Mike Field said. “We hope the ability to text a tip will make teens more comfortable letting us know if a party is getting out of hand, or preferably, before the party starts.”

Brodie Hinckley, director of the Sagadahoc County Communications Center, noted that “as much as we encourage parents and community members to let parents or the police know when they suspect a party is going on, there are still many who feel uncomfortable making the call. We hope the anonymity of this service will help youth and adults feel more comfortable letting the police know a party is being planned, or in progress.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Gathered at an unveiling of the “eTip” service April 10 at Morse High School in Bath are Heidi Tucker, left, coordinator of Communities Against Substance Abuse; Phippsburg Police Chief John Skroski; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Shawn O’Leary; Topsham Police Sgt. Fred Dunn; Brodie Hinckley, director of the Sagadahoc County Communications Center, and Bath Police Chief Mike Field.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.