How is anonymity maintained?
Many people including law enforcement officers and citizens alike wonder:
“How does Crime Stoppers work?”
“Can I really get a reward without anyone knowing who I am?”
The best way to answer these questions is to lay out our operating procedure for you. Montgomery County Crime Stoppers has two telephone lines set-up for incoming calls. A local administrative/office line and an 800 tip line. There is no caller ID nor line recorder set on these lines. No other law enforcement office nor officer has access to answering these lines. The Crime Stoppers office and files are kept secured and cannot be accessed by anyone other than the Crime Stoppers Coordinator or Assistant. The public has access to the Crime Stoppers Coordinator by telephone or by walk-in. These precautions are necessary to protect the anonymity of the Crime Stoppers caller and the confidentiality of the information as set-up in the Texas Government Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Texas Penal Code.
The Crime Stoppers tip line, 1 (800) 392-STOP is answered 24 hours a day, and collect calls from the jail and outside are accepted. We have specially trained call takers to answer the tip line. When the call takers receive a tip they document the information and notify the coordinator either by telephone contact at home, cellular or email. The coordinator then verifies the information and takes whatever action is necessary at that time such as: investigator notification, agency arrest, etc.
Tip Call Procedure:
Ascertain nature of call
Gain caller’s trust by reassuring caller they will remain anonymous through the process
Reaffirm anonymity by giving caller a Crime Stoppers Code Number to use for identification of tip and caller confirmation.
Advise caller they should not use their name, but retain and use only the assigned code number when contacting Crime Stoppers for supplemental information or to claim their reward.
Obtain as much information as possible about the crime or criminal (Record information on information tip sheet to be entered into computer program later.) DO NOT use words that would identify the caller as male, female, relative etc. State all information received in such a way as to not lead to the identity of the caller.
If caller advised they are willing to speak with an investigating officer, advise of the anonymity/confidentiality differences.
Advise caller to contact Crime Stoppers with any further information
Advise caller to contact Crime Stoppers weekly to check on status of investigation for reward
Log call, time, nature, suspect etc. and verify information either by warrant or check with investigating agency for case information
Check law enforcement computer for any possible follow-up information
Enter information into Crime Stoppers program for Tip Report and statistical information
Ascertain investigative agency and advise by telephone contact with paperwork follow-up
Advise agency to contact Crime Stoppers upon arrest/indictment of the suspects and validity of information from Crime Stoppers caller
Upon notification of arrest/indictment, Coordinator should prepare a disposition report and obtain copy of arrest report with number of cases cleared and number of individuals arrested
Advise caller upon call back of arrest and reward call back date
Prepare Reward Recommendation for monthly Board of Directors meeting by using the Reward Determination Schedule
Upon reward determination and vote by Board, Coordinator will assign a code word in addition to the code number for each case and prepare reward paperwork for board members to make reward payments.
Upon call back, advise caller of code word, reward amount, pick-up information date and time available.
Record payment amount in computer statistical files
Notify judges as to reward amount, date and charges of individuals arrested on Crime Stoppers tips and for whom rewards were paid for possible restitution by the arrested felons.