What is Crime Stoppers?
Crime Stoppers began in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 1976. It is a partnership of the community, the media and law enforcement designed to combat crime and keep our streets safe. In April of 1989, the Jefferson City Area Crime Stoppers Program was established in the Jefferson City/Cole County Missouri area,
and has been instrumental in criminal investigation efforts.
Today there are about 1,200 Crime Stoppers programs in communities around the
world that take tips to assist investigators solve crimes including homicides, sexual assaults, drug trafficking operations and robberies. Programs have also received information which have prevented school shootings and criminal acts by terrorist organizations.
Crime Stoppers programs are operated as not for profit charities and are managed by
a volunteer board of directors who take responsibility for fundraising and paying rewards to individuals who make an anonymous call with information that helps solve
a crime. Rewards are paid for tips that lead to the arrest and indictment of people charged with felony offenses. To date Crime Stoppers’ statistics reflect a conviction rate of approximately 95 percent.
Why Do We Need Crime Stoppers?
We need Crime Stoppers because it works. It is an extremely effective crime
fighting concept that solves crime and keeps our streets safer. The program has achieved an average conviction rate of 95 percent, and tips to Crime Stoppers
save law enforcement agencies significant investigative time. Calls to Crime
Stoppers assist in putting police on the right track by identifying individuals who
are responsible for committing crimes. Since 1976 tips to Crime Stoppers have
been responsible for the arrests of about 600,000 individuals and led to the seizure
of approximately $7 billion in stolen property and illicit drugs.
How Does Crime Stoppers Work?
There is usually someone who has information that can help solve crime. In many investigations, however, police and other law enforcement agencies encounter individuals who will not directly provide information. The three key reasons are:
- Fear of reprisal
- An attitude of apathy
- Reluctance to get involved.
Crime Stoppers breaks through these barriers by giving people the opportunity to provide information without directly speaking to police or having to testify in court. Obviously investigators need witnesses to help prove their case in court, but most importantly they need information that allows them to zero in on a suspect or a criminal operation, such as a drug trafficking network. Tips to Crime Stoppers
does not give police evidence they require to arrest an individual but puts them on
the right track to solve crime. Cash rewards from Crime Stoppers also motivate
some people to call anonymously with information that will be vital to investigators.
Three partners are essential to a Crime Stoppers program.
Citizens form the foundation of a local Crime Stoppers program. There are people
who serve as volunteer directors on the Crime Stoppers board with responsibility
to operate the non-profit corporation, raise funds and approve reward payments
when crimes are solved. Members of the public support Crime Stoppers at public events and through other fundraising activities. And there are others who call
Crime Stoppers when they have information that will solve crime.
Local media outlets have responsibility for promoting Crime Stoppers by publicizing unsolved crimes and assisting with appeals to raise funds for the program. On an ongoing basis newspapers as well as radio and television stations in the community undertake to broadcast a Crime of the Week which highlights an unsolved case.
This appeal can include a video re-enactment of a crime to give the public a visual portrayal of what occurred, and some idea of the information investigators may
require to solve an incident. The media also regularly promotes the special Crime Stoppers phone number.
Local police agencies appoint a coordinator to operate the Crime Stoppers program
on a daily basis and provide staff to maintain an office that takes tips on the Crime Stoppers line. Callers are never asked to identify themselves and there is no equipment in the office that records voices or traces telephone numbers. Anonymity
is guaranteed. Those who call Crime Stoppers receive a code number that allows
them to claim a reward after an arrest has been made. The police also investigate
the various Crime Stoppers tips and report to the coordinator when a case is solved.