Crime Stoppers: from the tip to the arrest

We've all heard of Crime Stoppers -- but how exactly does it work?

/ Colby Gallagher

Crime Stoppers is constantly promoted as a way to anonymously aid law enforcement agencies in solving cases - but how does the group made entirely of volunteers work?

"Crime Stoppers is a group of local business people that are interested in helping law enforcement fight crime through being able to give rewards. A lot of people think that Crime Stoppers is a division of the police department but it is not, it is a separate entity," said the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors Secretary, Judy Randle.

A separate entity with a separate 24/7 call center located in Canada ready to take the info and send it to the right people through a text message or email. All callers need to complete the anonymous process is the tip itself.

"There's not any chance that anyone's going to know who that person is. They're not required to give their name, their phone number or their address. They don't have to give out any information except the tip," said Randle.

With plenty of tips coming in every day, law enforcement agencies have to weed through to determine which trails are hot.

"The detectives go through those tips very carefully, they follow up on each tip and somewhere along the line it will be discovered whether the information is bogus or not," said Albany Police Department's Public Information Officer, Phyllis Banks.

As for the callers? They're assigned a number. After about a month, they can call back to see if their tip was deemed worthy of a reward - something that's figured out during a monthly Crime Stoppers Board meeting.

"Each individual agency presents their Crime Stoppers tips that have been helpful in cases and then the board decides on the reward," said Banks.

"Then we look at our scale that's recommended by international as to how much to pay for that reward," said Randle.

Tips leading to a murder suspect are rewarded higher than those leading to a burglary suspect. The highest amount given by the board is $1,000 â" although victims can donate more to be awarded for their cases - and the funds are entirely made up of donations.

"The more successful that Crime Stoppers is, the more rewards they're giving out and the more we have to raise funds for those rewards so we have a couple of upcoming events," said Randle.

On September 21st, the group will hold their 5th Annual Albany Crime Stoppers Golf Tournament at the Grand Island Golf Club. On October 20th, MillerCoors is holding Oktoberfest at the Veterans Park Amphitheater with proceeds benefiting Crime Stoppers.

For more information, pricing and exact times, visit the Albany Crime Stoppers Facebook page.

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