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Hot Line to preventing crime.

YOU HAVE PROBABLY HEARD OF Crime Stoppers, or at least you may be familiar with the version of the program that exists in your community. Crime Stoppers International Inc., formed in 1976 in Albuquerque, NM, established the silent witness form of crime prevention. Crime Stoppers and similar programs, which now exist worldwide, provide an outlet for individuals to anonymously provide law enforcement with information about criminal activity.

What you may not know, especially if you are not involved with your community's program, is how Crime Stoppers programs can help build and strengthen the working relationship between public law enforcement and the private sector, a matter that security professionals and law enforcement personnel alike admit needs improvement.

This article profiles 88-CRIME Inc., the Tucson, AZ, Crime Stoppers affiliate and one of the most successful - it consistently ranks among the top 10 Crime Stoppers programs worldwide. (For more about Crime Stoppers International, see the accompanying box).

88-CRIME Inc. was born in 1980, the brainchild of Pima County Attorney Stephen D. Neely. This was in the early years of Crime Stoppers International, before it had proven successful. Neely formed the program after studies revealed average citizens were reluctant to call the police with information about crimes for fear of reprisal. 88-CRIME - also the phone number - is a hot line that anyone can call with information about a crime and be guaranteed anonymity.

Neely says the program succeeds because of community participation. "Everyone knows crime is a problem that belongs to the community," he says. Law enforcement agencies alone cannot solve every crime. A civic-minded attitude must be promoted in any community for a Crime Stoppers program to be successful, Neely says.

Also, the program's anonymity guarantee allows citizens to report what they know without fear of physical harm from a criminal out for revenge. The promise of anonymity has been carefully maintained, since it is the conerstone of 88-CRIME's success.

A PREVALENT COMPLAINT IN THE SEcurity profession is the lack of cooperation between public law enforcement and private security. Although the two share a common goal - preventing crime - they don't always work together toward that goal. This lack of cooperation often fosters animosity and competition between the two fields that carry over when former law enforcement officers become private security practitioners.

Since the private security profession has always drawn heavily on former law enforcement personnel for its ranks, it is obviously in the best interest of both to establish a good working relationship to do the job right.

88-CRIME helps develop that relationship by encouraging private sector and community support of law enforcement. Its small, crowded offices sit high atop the Great American Tower building in downtown Tucson. The organization has had a large impact on this mid-size (population 680,000) desert city located near the Mexican border in Arizona's Pima County.

"Crime Stoppers is a natural outlet for security practitioners," says Korkye Purviance, Crime Stoppers International newsletter editor. "Many board members of Crime Stoppers programs worldwide are security practitioners or members of ASIS."

Carolyn Emerine, 88-CRIME's dynamic director, has the energy and commitment - along with a unique ability to walk the line between the community and law enforcement - that provide the necessary ingredients for success.

Emerine is one of the few civilians heading a Crime Stoppers program; most are lead and staffed by current and former law enforcement officials who usually serve a term of about two years. Directors' public sector background can make liaison with the private sector difficult, and the limited term often prevents consistency and the development of a cohesive program.

The Tucson program is different. Emerine joined 88-CRIME as assistant to the program director in 1981 and was named director in 1987. Because she works for neither law enforcement nor the private sector and because her term is not limited, she is able to bridge the gap between the two and cooperate extensively with each.

Larry Taylor, regional vice president for Pinkerton's Inc. in Tucson and former 88-CRIME board member, agrees it is important to have a liaison between the public and private sectors. "Usually when law enforcement officers run a program, they go back to the streets after a couple of years," he says. "We have a professional running our program." Emerine agrees that consistency is important to the community. "There has to be a mutual trust," she says. "If we ever lost that trust, the program would crash."

Emerine and her staff of three handle about 25 calls a day, more when a high-profile or highly publicized case is going on. After 5 pm, volunteers staff the phones at the police department switchboard to make sure calls are answered around the clock. 88-CRIME was the first Crime Stoppers program to use volunteers, and they must go through extensive background checks and training.

When a call comes in, the recipient enters relevant information on the computer, assigns a six-digit case number, and gets a fictitious birth date from the caller to help identify him or her later if a reward is due. The informant is told to call back in 15 days to see if any progress has been made on the case.

If the information requires immediate attention - for instance, if a fugitive has been spotted at a certain location - the police are called right away. Otherwise, the police department or other law enforcement agency is given a computer printout with all the information provided by the caller along with a follow-up form, which the agency is asked to return within 10 days. Approximately one in every 13 calls to 88-CRIME results in the arrest of a felony suspect.

One of the biggest advantages of the program is that it guarantees anonymity. 88-CRIME does not ask for callers' identities and tells each caller not to tell anyone that he or she is an informant. With the case ID number and fictitious birth date the informant can collect his or her reward at designated financial institutions. No one related to 88-CRIME ever meets or sees the callers.

Emerine says calls come from three types of individuals. The first type is the average, upstanding citizen who just happens to have information about a crime. Next is the borderline criminal, someone who is perhaps marginally involved in the crime or knows the person who committed the crime. And the third type is the regular criminal. "A lot of our calls come from the local jail," says Emerine. Prisoners sometimes have the inside track on a crime or hear information through the grapevine. The common thread relating all callers is that they are uncomfortable with the information they possess and want to tell someone.

88-CRIME is governed by a 25-person board of directors that makes all decisions on rewards. The board meets once a month to decide the rewards for that month's cases. Board members are selected carefully and serve three-year terms. The board members are some of Tucson's movers and shakers, says Emerine, "people with clout in the community."

From July 1980 through April 1991, the 88-CRIME board of directors had approved nearly $500,000 in reward money. Calls to the hot line had resulted in 2,141 felony arrests and $49,118,986 in recovered stolen property and narcotics.

88-CRIME is a nonprofit organization that receives approximately $130,000 a year from Pima County for staff salaries, office space, training, maintenance, printing, and postage. It also receives a $23,000 grant from the City of Tucson that covers additional equipment and crime reenactments. All reward money comes from private donations.

Between $60,000 and $70,000 is raised annually for rewards. Rewards generally are less than $1,000 per case solved, but they may be as much as $2,500 in cases of sexual assault, child abuse, homicide, or kidnapping. The largest reward ever was $10,000 in the case of the "prime-time rapist." In that case, a man had been terrorizing the city for about two years. He entered homes through unlocked doors and windows during the prime-time TV hours and sexually assaulted the females in the house in full view of the males. Then he would forcibly take the couple to a local bank and have them draw out large sums of money.

Thousands of phone calls came in, of which 3,000 were actually processed and referred to the police. "The board wanted to do more than normal in this case because the whole city was actually being terrorized by the rapist," Emerine says. Extra money was allocated for the reward. When the key informant finally called, the last bit of information needed to solve the case was provided, and the rapist was caught.

But while money motivates many people, a third of the reward money usually goes unclaimed. Emerine believes the guarantee of anonymity is as important a motivator as the reward. "We have made a commitment to this community. If you call 88-CRIME, you will remain anonymous," she says.

When the police or other law enforcement agencies have exhausted their leads on a particular case, they often turn to 88-CRIME. When such a scenario develops, 88-CRIME produces a reenactment video of the crime. Local actors provide their services for free, and the local media cooperate by providing free exposure.

The reenactments are usually brief. At the end of each, a description of the suspect, or a photo if available, is given along with reward information and the 88-CRIME hot line number.

Local television stations cooperate in showing the videos on their newscasts, and local radio stations and newspapers use press releases adapted from the scripts; even the Spanish-language stations carry the news releases every week.

Emerine says calls usually start coming in within 24 hours of the television airing of a reenactment. "If the suspect is local," she notes, "he or she will usually be in custody within 24 hours."

Major crimes with big rewards, like the case of the "prime-time rapist," usually are solved through calls to the hot line after a reenactment is publicized. The reenactments have been running since 88-CRIME's inception and are one of the most successful aspects of the program.

EMERINE HAS FOUND THAT GETTING assistance from and forging a good working relationship with local corporations has been integral to the program's success. Tucson companies donate equipment, money, and prizes to be auctioned in the annual silent auction to raise reward money.

For instance, IBM has donated computer tables and video equipment. Mark Lundin, IBM's site security manager in Tucson, says IBM's Fund for Community Service program donates funds and equipment to local programs - such as 88-CRIME - that IBM employees contribute to through community service work. Lundin, who also serves on the 88-CRIME board of directors, says besides equipment "IBM has donated thousands of dollars since 1981."

Although county funding keeps the program running, 88-CRIME depends on private citizens and corporations for reward money. Emerine says plainly: "We exist because of the tremendous support we get from corporations."

When soliciting help from companies, the security department is often a logical place to start; after all, security and law enforcement share a common goal. Through her membership in ASIS Emerine has encouraged several security practitioners to serve on the 88-CRIME board of directors.

Lundin concurs that the program's success is due in part to the fact that it is run by neither the public nor the private sector. Emerine and the board are independent of the factors that affect both communities, and because they work between the two the cooperative effort is more successful. "We work parallel to law enforcement - not with or against them," Lundin notes.

Pinkerton's is another organization whose support has been vital to the program. Larry Taylor, who served on the 88-CRIME board of directors from 1984 to 1990, has seen the program grow over the years. "In 1984, when I started, things were a little shaky. But public support has grown along with the program in the last 10 years," he says. "88-CRIME has provided average citizens with the vehicle they need to get involved and not be scared to death when they go home at night that someone is going to retaliate against their family or property for reporting a crime."

Taylor believes that any Crime Stoppers program can be successful if the local business community gets behind it. He says if you are a security practitioner in a community that has a Crime Stoppers program, you should "get involved, and get your company involved too."

Another board member, Steve Reynolds, president of Steven J. Reynolds Productions, a security consulting firm in Tucson, says one important factor in the program's success is that it recruits board members who are willing to work for the program. "It's nice to have a company's CEO on your board of directors, but you have to consider how much work they're going to do," he says. 88-CRIME board members must believe in the program and work hard to support it.

"It's unfortunate that the city generally views programs like this as an expense," continues Reynolds. "What everyone needs to understand is that the return on the dollar to the city of Tucson is phenomenal. The city's portion of the funding is relatively small, and none of it is used for rewards. However, every time a felon is captured some of that money is returned to the citizens, either through actual recovery of stolen property or simply the satisfaction of getting a criminal off the streets."

Reynolds also notes that the success of 88-CRIME and other Crime Stoppers programs has encouraged some corporations to establish similar "silent witness" programs for their employees. Such programs can serve as a vehicle for employees to report theft or fraud or anything else they would not otherwise report if they had to reveal their identities.

Unfortunately, says Emerine, these programs are not always a good idea, mainly because it is difficult for the corporation to conceal an individual's identity and control access to caller information the way a Crime Stoppers program can. But she says a corporation can enjoy the benefits of Crime Stoppers and use a hot line such as 88-CRIME to report criminal acts without going through the time and financial expense of establishing a program of its own.

"88-CRIME gives a victim or a witness the psychological satisfaction of knowing there is someone out there who will listen," says Reynolds. "If information about a crime is called in on the hot line, something will be done, and the public likes that feeling of security. The benefit of this action to the community is tremendous."

And the benefit to local law enforcement officers is obvious: 88-CRIME helps them solve crimes. Working with 88-CRIME benefits the police force in more ways than one. Sometimes when police approach an investigative lead in a case, the individual is afraid to discuss what he or she knows. But these individuals are often willing to talk to 88-CRIME.

88-CRIME also works closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FBI, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Because of Tucson's proximity to the Mexican border, many of the calls that come in relate to drug-related crimes.

Emerine constantly stresses the importance of community involvement and has initiated cosponsorship of programs like "Tucsonans for a Drug-Free Workplace," a community-wide program designed to spread the word that drugs do not belong in the corporate environment. The program gives employees an outlet for reporting drug sales and other drug-related activity in the workplace to fight the problems.

Emerine also teaches a course on 88-CRIME during each session at the Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy, usually three or four times a year, and area law enforcement officers are honored annually at the 88-CRIME law enforcement officer of the year awards dinner. "Time and time again we get calls of thanks from detectives who were aided in solving a crime by tips to 88-CRIME," says Reynolds, who chairs the program's law enforcement liaison committee and coordinates the annual dinner.

PUBLICITY FOR 88-CRIME IS ALL DOnated: the program gets free coverage from local newspapers and television and radio stations and through the reenactments; billboard space is donated; and Emerine has become a highly visible member of the community. Everywhere she goes she espouses the 88-CRIME message. "I never turn down a request to appear on TV or be interviewed by the media or do speaking engagements," she says. "Every opportunity is a chance to publicize the program."

Emerine speaks at schools, community meetings, local Indian reservations, and any other outlet that comes up. "As director of a community-supported program, I believe I need to be out in the community as much as possible." She is so well known that she is frequently stopped on the street by people who recognize her.

The program also hosts several major fund-raisers a year, such as dinners and a silent auction, which are highly publicized.

The program's high visibility, guaranteed anonymity, and hard-working board members and volunteers are all keys to its success, and the public relations factor cannot be ignored. Similar programs must count on publicity and support from the local media.

Crime Stoppers has become a successful part of many communities around the world. People realize that they and their communities benefit when a crime is solved - one more criminal is off the street, or money or stolen goods are returned. The next logical step is for citizens and corporations to get more involved; not every Crime Stoppers program is as successful as the one in Tucson.

Fighting Crime Around the World

CRIME STOPPERS INTERNATIONAL INC. (CSI) IS THE UMBRELLA ORGANIzation that serves approximately 850 crime hot lines worldwide. Calls to these programs have resulted in the solving of more than 320,000 felony crimes, the recovery of narcotics and stolen property worth almost $2 billion, and a 96 percent conviction rate for the more than 59,000 defendants tried.

Local Crime Stoppers programs exist in all 50 of the United States; Washington, DC; Guam; Saipan; Puerto Rico; nine Canadian provinces; Australia; England; Israel; Mexico; and several countries in West Africa. Law enforcement officials from Moscow recently reviewed a CSI program and have plans to begin the concept in the Soviet Union.

CSI was founded in Albuquerque, NM, in 1976 by a detective looking for a way to overcome community apathy. That way was to offer rewards and anonymity to persons who call with information that solves a serious crime. The program has been snowballing ever since. Its policies and goals are set by a board of 30 civilians and law enforcement officers from all over the world.

Member organizations like 88-CRIME usually maintain regular contact with CSI through CSI's monthly newsletter and annual meeting. In addition, member programs pay dues and provide monthly status reports.

"CSI serves networking purposes for its members," says Farris Purviance, CSI operations manager. "We're here to stimulate and enhance the growth of Crime Stoppers in any way we can." That includes providing a how-to manual for new members and offering prospective members information on how to start a program.

In addition to the Tucson program, some of the more visible and successful programs in the world are those in Virginia Beach, VA; Nashville, TN; Austin, TX; and Edmonton, Canada.

PHOTO : Carolyn Emerine has been director of 88-CRIME since 1987.

Caroline M. Cooney is staff editor of Security Management.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Seminar Issue; includes related article
Author:Cooney, Caroline M.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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