UCF Police Department officers are pushing for students to use tip lines to reduce crime on campus.
Although Florida’s anonymous tip service Crimeline has been used at UCF for 41 years, UCF PD Officer Frank Imparato said it’s not well known.
Imparato said students with information that could lead to an arrest for any type of criminal activity can call Crimeline and make a report. If the tip leads to an arrest, the student gets $1,000, he said.
Students are only paid if the arrest results in a felony, UCF PD spokeswoman Amanda Sellers said. In 2017, Crimeline paid $169,435 in rewards to people in Central Florida, according to Crimeline’s website.
UCF PD officers are advertising Crimline more than usual this year by posting fliers around campus. UCF PD will also begin posting announcements about Crimeline on social media, Imparato said.
Recognizing signs of criminal behavior and using Crimeline can benefit UCF students’ safety, Imparato said.
There have been multiple suspicious incidents on campus that were called in by students this year, giving UCF PD the opportunity to investigate and stop potential threats.
Former UCF student Abdullah Zaman was arrested early February for allegedly groping women in on-campus parking garages. UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said Zaman was caught because students spoke out and reported suspicious behavior, though they didn’t report the behavior through Crimeline.
Imparato said the department is promoting the tip line in hopes that students will use it in the future.
UCF criminology professor Stephen Holmes said red flags such as extreme changes in appearance and attitude can indicate potential criminal activity.
“Specifically with those who become violent, you start to notice the changes in appearance, the changes in the attitude, the completely not giving a hoot about anything,” Holmes said.
Former UCF student Wenliang Sun’s behavioral and appearance changes — such as dying his hair blond, buying a $70,000 sports car and not attending classes — caused his counselor to alert UCF PD.
Holmes said checking a suspicious person’s social media accounts is strongly recommended before making an official tip.
Suspicious behavior can often be seen on social media, Holmes said. Things to look for are melancholy or angry statuses, abnormal pictures and obsessive posting, he said.