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Amtrak riders can now report 'suspicious activity' via text messages

Amtrak has launched a new "Txt-A-Tip" program that allows riders and employees to report suspicious or criminal activity on the rail service via text message, the company announced Wednesday.

The program adds a new option, accessible to those with hearing loss or who are deaf, to an existing phone line for such reports.

"Our passengers and frontline employees provide an extra line of defense by being an additional set of eyes and ears while in or around our stations, trains, facilities or right-of-way, and now they can report crime or suspicious activity in a convenient and discreet method, by text message," said Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson in a statement.

Passengers who text a message to APD11 from a smart phone or to 27311 from a standard cell phone will receive a response that the message has been received, and then will be able to begin a live text conversation with an Amtrak Police communications officer, Amtrak said.

The officer "will correspond directly via text message with the person to learn more about the situation and determine the appropriate action," Amtrak said.

"People should trust their gut, follow their instincts, and report anything that just doesn't seem right," Hanson said.

The rail company already has several other safety measures in place, the company said, including explosive detection methods and random passenger and bag screenings.

krector@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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