Put simply it is a three part approach to solving the crime problem. CRIMESTOPPERS relies on cooperation between the sheriff's office, the police department, the media, and the general community to provide a flow of information about crime and criminals.
The Phone Call
Calls are received at the local CRIMESTOPPERS tips line phone (406-433-6666). This phone is a stand alone instrument which does not provide caller ID, and conversations are not recorded. The CRIMESTOPPERS law enforcement or civilian Coordinator receiving the information completes the tips information form, makes initial inquiries and then passes the information to the investigating officer. Calls are accepted regarding any publicized request for information, such as "Crime of the Week" or such other crime(s) the caller has knowledge of.
By guaranteeing a caller's anonymity Crime Stoppers allows the caller to give information in a positive atmosphere without the prospect of retribution. By offering cash rewards for information leading to indictment or arrests, the program encourages otherwise reluctant callers to provide information.
The Online WebTip
Tipsters now have the option of giving us tips online. The process is completely secure and anonymous and is a very effective and efficient means of safely communicating with us in today's world. Our WebTip process is powered by the world's leading online tip solution provider, Anderson Software.
The very unique integrated Two-Way Dialog capabilties allow the tipster to come back and provide additional information to their tip at any time, but also provides a secure means for the coordinator to ask questions or provide reward information back to the tipster through the same secure and encrypted interface.
Structure and Funding of Crime Stoppers
Crime Stopper Programs are organized as a not for profit organization (Charity). A civilian community board of directors provides direction as to the financial and promotional activities of the program. The board of directors enhances the community involvement aspect, and its function is vital to the programs success.
The Crime Stoppers program is funded by private donations and fund raising. NO TAX DOLLARS are involved. The reward money paid out by the program is from the fund raising and donations from concerned citizens and businesses.
A community board of directors, made up of persons from throughout the area, meets on a monthly basis to evaluate arrests and to decide on the size of rewards to be paid, up to $1,000. Rewards are then distributed in a private manner to the callers. Callers are eligible for rewards up to $1,000, but, despite this, many callers choose not to collect their rewards.
Does Crime Stoppers Work?
The answer is quite simply yes. Since the start of Crime Stoppers, many calls have been received resulting in thousands of arrests and recovery of substantial amounts of property. Calls have included information about murder, robbery, rape, assaults, drug and firearm offenses.
The success of a Crime Stoppers program cannot be purely judged on statistics, however, other benefits have come to notice:
Crime Stoppers is definitely here to stay. It has been accepted by police as a valid and effective investigative tool and the public, through its overwhelming response, appears to have accepted it as a more palatable alternative to traditional methods of giving information.