Douglas County's Crime Stoppers program pays off in more ways than one, local law enforcement officials say.
Police and sheriff agencies get criminal suspects off the streets thanks to anonymous tipsters. And sometimes the tipsters get cash rewards.
"It's been extremely successful," said Julie Love, president of the Crime Stoppers board of directors. "It seems like it is getting more successful all the time."
Sometimes outside law enforcement agencies may benefit from a tip received locally.
During the past few months a tip received in Douglas County led law enforcement agencies in another state to develop information leading to multiple drug indictments. No information is being released about those cases at this time because an investigation is still pending.
Crime Stoppers was instituted in Douglas County in 1994 as a means for allowing the public to give tips to law enforcement agencies, possibly receive a reward if the information leads to an arrest and conviction, and yet remain anonymous. Crime Stoppers is a national program, and January has been National Crime Stoppers Month.
Throughout most of Douglas County Crime Stoppers history, calls were handled by the Lawrence Police Department. In addition to taking tip calls, police also periodically released information about a particular criminal suspect they were seeking. Rewards varying up to $1,000 are offered.
Since June the program has been handled by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. In the months since, a sheriff's detective has received 150 tips. The calls have led to the arrests of four suspects and resulted in a payout to tipsters totaling $2,000. Seven other suspects have been arrested without rewards being paid, Lt. Ken Massey said.
Crime Stoppers, a private organization, is made up of community members who do fund-raising to subsidize tip payouts.
Calls are taken at 843-8477 (TIPS). No caller identification is used. A method is established for making cash payments to callers who receive them and remain anonymous. Callers are given an identification code number.
The 18-member board of directors determines who will be paid and how much.