When a criminal case is not solved within a reasonable length of time, the investigative leads diminish. The trail becomes cold, evidence becomes unobtainable, and the crime becomes increasingly more difficult to solve. For this reason, most police department files contain many unsolved cases. When this occurs, a method is needed that will re-awaken public interest and will also call upon citizens for help in providing the needed information.
Quite often, citizens witness all or part of a crime without being aware of what they have seen. Consequently, they unknowingly possess key information that could aid police in solving the crime. In order for the police to receive this vital information, the citizens must be made aware of the importance of the information they possess. The incident must be recalled to their attention and explain what information is needed by the police to solve the crime.
All too often, citizens do not contact the police with information that could help solve a crime. It may be due to fear, they believe if they reveal their own identity then they would expose themselves or their families to acts of retaliation by the criminal. In most of these instances these citizens will not come forward with information. In order to share information with police, they must be assured they will be provided complete anonymity. If the police fail to provide this anonymity, the result is usually the loss of vital information due to the lack of willingness to cooperate.
In other instances, citizens may not come forward with information because they lack the knowledge of how or whom to contact in the police organization. Once these citizens “work up the courage” to contact the police, they must be assured that whomever they talk to will be interested in, and respond to whatever information they relay. Otherwise, these citizens may call in once with information, but certainly will not call a second time if they are shuffled and transferred from one person or department to another.
The Crime Stoppers concept provides a method of overcoming these limitations and involving citizens in the solution of crime. Through the Crime Stoppers program, citizens who have knowledge of a specific crime are encouraged either for civic or monetary reasons to come forward to police. Through this program, the public is reminded that the police need their assistance to make the community a safer place to live. Crime Stoppersallows any citizen coming forward with information to remain completely anonymous. In this way, the citizen is assured that his identity will be protected and that any useful information relayed will be utilized. To effectively integrate the knowledge of the public, Crime Stoppers must also receive the support of the various representatives of the media such as television, radio, and print.