DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — In 2019 so far, tips to Crime Stoppers led to three arrests with $450 in payout. Those numbers could be much higher.
Crime Stoppers leaders from across the state are trying to figure out why the numbers are low and how to improve them. One way they believe will lead to more tips is sharing the ways they’re kept anonymous.
We hear the word: anonymous. But how does that anonymity work? Some might even think calling in a tip puts them on a list for law enforcement. Crime Stoppers leaders want a forum Tuesday night to be the start of dispelling some of these myths and figuring out how to better connect with the public.
“We’re here not to really criticize, but we’re here to offer best practices,” said Illinois Crime Stoppers State Board President Loren Hamilton.
Community members often hold information crucial to investigations. That’s why figuring out how to make community members more likely to share is important.
“We did have a tip that led to an arrest in a homicide; it was one where we wouldn’t have much to go on, and that tip did a lot for us. And we were able to catch a guy for it,” said Danville police sergeant Eric Olson.
But those tipsters have to feel comfortable coming forward. That’s something Crime Stoppers leaders believe could improve if people understand how it works.
“When somebody calls Crime Stoppers, it goes to Canada, the phone number is scrubbed, it goes down to Dallas, Ft. Worth, answered by a company down there that does most of the Crime Stoppers across America,” said Vermilion County Crime Stoppers President Chris Clapp.
“I think your anonymity is your safety. And so that’s a good way to think about it. No one actually knows. I’ve never known anybody who’s called into Crime Stoppers, even as the state’s attorney,” said Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy.
There are also other areas for improvement, according to Hamilton. Crime Stoppers leaders in some areas advocate throughout the community by starting neighborhood watch groups or spreading information on college campuses.
They are in need of more board members. They can be reached by mail at:
P.O. Box 902, Danville, IL 61834