Crimestoppers

Weir thinking about it

In July of 1976, on a hot steamy night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two criminals shot and killed a young man working at a gas station. They had no idea that they would be responsible for a worldwide anti—crime movement that has resulted in the solution of approximately a half—million major crimes. They didn't realize that as a result of their cold—blooded murder, almost 100,000 criminals would end up behind bars. Nor could they imagine that their crime would spark the creation of the model for two major television network programs.

Michael Carmen was a young University of New Mexico student who was only two weeks away from marrying his high school sweetheart. On the night he was killed he was working an extra shift because one of his friends needed the night off. On that fateful night, two men robbed the gas station and for no apparent reason, fired a shotgun blast that killed the young man. One of the detectives working the case was Greg MacAleese. He and his partner struggled for 6 weeks trying to piece together evidence to solve the crime to no avail. Finally, out of desperation, Detective MacAleese decided to approach the manager of a local TV station and ask if he could reenact the crime for one of the newscasts. The detective felt that there might be an eyewitness somewhere in the community, but in a city of 350,000 people he would need help.

On Sept. 8, 1976, the first crime reenactment was broadcast on the 10 o'clock news. The very next morning the detective received a call from a man who told him he had watched the TV spot and remembered walking home from a party on the night Michael Carmen was killed and heard a loud bang, almost like a noise from a large firecracker. Moments later, a car heading west from the gas station passed him at high speed.  The caller said there were 2 men in the vehicle. He didn't get a close look at them, but he recognized the car and that it belonged to a resident of a nearby apartment complex. The caller's information led them to the getaway car and they traced it to one of the gunmen. The second murderer was captured shortly afterward.

As a result of the quick success of the first television reenactment, Detective MacAleese was able to convince the Albuquerque Police Dept that they needed the program on a regular basis. He was aware, as most police officers are, that most major crimes are not solved by brilliant investigation on the part of police, but as a direct result of information provided by the public. The problem is that many citizens are reluctant to get involved for 2 reasons: fear and apathy. Crime Stoppers was a system formed to overcome those barriers. For those who are afraid of retaliation from the criminals, a system was created to allow them to be anonymous. For those citizens who were apathetic, a system was designed to provide cash rewards for information leading to the solution of a major crime.

As a result, Crime Stoppers was born. The name was taken from the Dick Tracy comic strip, after permission was granted by Chester Gould, the artist who had drawn the cartoon figures and who had become famous for creating the legendary detective.

Naturally, the idea of offering cash rewards and anonymity to citizens was a controversial one, and had potential for abuse. Therefore, in order to provide civilian oversight of the program, a citizen board of directors was established. The board is responsible for monitoring the Crime Stoppers operation. They meet monthly to determine the amount tipsters should receive, and they handle the financial record—keeping and other administrative duties. A police investigator handles the day—to—day operation of the program, receives tips, follows leads, and makes arrests based on such information. At the monthly meeting, the officer reports to the board with a written record of tips that led to arrests, the value of the info received from the tipster, the danger involved in the apprehension, and the severity of the crime solved. Using a point system, a recommendation is made to the board concerning the amount of reward to be paid.

The board can go with the recommendation, or discuss the case and decide on a different amount. The highest reward to be paid is $1000. When you begin to realize that this program leads to arrests that range from murderers to narcotics peddlers to child molesters and rapists, you quickly see the value of such an enterprise. Imagine obtaining information on a murderer that leads to his imprisonment for a price of $1000 or less. How much is it worth to take a child molester or a serial rapist off the streets? Every time a drug pusher is put away, we may be saving some of our children from a life—destroying addiction.  Keep in mind that these arrests are made exclusively through the use of tips called—in by people who have observed activity in their community that they suspect is criminal. Were it not for these tips, those criminals would continue to prey on society until they were apprehended through other means. Sadly, in many cases, by that time, many more innocent people would have been victimized.

The good work of the Albuquerque police, the local television station, and the countless volunteers who have made Crime Stoppers into a formidable law enforcement tool, should be celebrated. We will never know the names of those who have been spared from falling victim to the criminals taken off the streets, but their lives have been enriched, and in some cases saved.

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Weir thinking about it

In July of 1976, on a hot steamy night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two criminals shot and killed a young man working at a gas station. They had no idea that they would be responsible for a worldwide anti—crime movement that has resulted in the solution of approximately a half—million major crimes. They didn't realize that as a result of their cold—blooded murder, almost 100,000 criminals would end up behind bars. Nor could they imagine that their crime would spark the creation of the model for two major television network programs.

Michael Carmen was a young University of New Mexico student who was only two weeks away from marrying his high school sweetheart. On the night he was killed he was working an extra shift because one of his friends needed the night off. On that fateful night, two men robbed the gas station and for no apparent reason, fired a shotgun blast that killed the young man. One of the detectives working the case was Greg MacAleese. He and his partner struggled for 6 weeks trying to piece together evidence to solve the crime to no avail. Finally, out of desperation, Detective MacAleese decided to approach the manager of a local TV station and ask if he could reenact the crime for one of the newscasts. The detective felt that there might be an eyewitness somewhere in the community, but in a city of 350,000 people he would need help.

On Sept. 8, 1976, the first crime reenactment was broadcast on the 10 o'clock news. The very next morning the detective received a call from a man who told him he had watched the TV spot and remembered walking home from a party on the night Michael Carmen was killed and heard a loud bang, almost like a noise from a large firecracker. Moments later, a car heading west from the gas station passed him at high speed.  The caller said there were 2 men in the vehicle. He didn't get a close look at them, but he recognized the car and that it belonged to a resident of a nearby apartment complex. The caller's information led them to the getaway car and they traced it to one of the gunmen. The second murderer was captured shortly afterward.

As a result of the quick success of the first television reenactment, Detective MacAleese was able to convince the Albuquerque Police Dept that they needed the program on a regular basis. He was aware, as most police officers are, that most major crimes are not solved by brilliant investigation on the part of police, but as a direct result of information provided by the public. The problem is that many citizens are reluctant to get involved for 2 reasons: fear and apathy. Crime Stoppers was a system formed to overcome those barriers. For those who are afraid of retaliation from the criminals, a system was created to allow them to be anonymous. For those citizens who were apathetic, a system was designed to provide cash rewards for information leading to the solution of a major crime.

As a result, Crime Stoppers was born. The name was taken from the Dick Tracy comic strip, after permission was granted by Chester Gould, the artist who had drawn the cartoon figures and who had become famous for creating the legendary detective.

Naturally, the idea of offering cash rewards and anonymity to citizens was a controversial one, and had potential for abuse. Therefore, in order to provide civilian oversight of the program, a citizen board of directors was established. The board is responsible for monitoring the Crime Stoppers operation. They meet monthly to determine the amount tipsters should receive, and they handle the financial record—keeping and other administrative duties. A police investigator handles the day—to—day operation of the program, receives tips, follows leads, and makes arrests based on such information. At the monthly meeting, the officer reports to the board with a written record of tips that led to arrests, the value of the info received from the tipster, the danger involved in the apprehension, and the severity of the crime solved. Using a point system, a recommendation is made to the board concerning the amount of reward to be paid.

The board can go with the recommendation, or discuss the case and decide on a different amount. The highest reward to be paid is $1000. When you begin to realize that this program leads to arrests that range from murderers to narcotics peddlers to child molesters and rapists, you quickly see the value of such an enterprise. Imagine obtaining information on a murderer that leads to his imprisonment for a price of $1000 or less. How much is it worth to take a child molester or a serial rapist off the streets? Every time a drug pusher is put away, we may be saving some of our children from a life—destroying addiction.  Keep in mind that these arrests are made exclusively through the use of tips called—in by people who have observed activity in their community that they suspect is criminal. Were it not for these tips, those criminals would continue to prey on society until they were apprehended through other means. Sadly, in many cases, by that time, many more innocent people would have been victimized.

The good work of the Albuquerque police, the local television station, and the countless volunteers who have made Crime Stoppers into a formidable law enforcement tool, should be celebrated. We will never know the names of those who have been spared from falling victim to the criminals taken off the streets, but their lives have been enriched, and in some cases saved.

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com