Crime Stoppers new SPEEDY REWARD process for fugitive arrests
At the end of December 2011, Michiana Crime Stoppers put in place a new speedy reward process on certain tips that led to the arrest of felony fugitives. Crime Stoppers is a donor-funded program. Its board of directors governs the funds, including rewards. In the past, tips were presented twice monthly to the board for authorization and determination of reward amounts. This meant that tipsters had to wait sometimes up to three weeks after an arrest before they could claim their reward.
The tipster was sent to a bank in downtown South Bend to retrieve their cash reward using their tip number without ever having to show identification. If a tipster was unable to come to South Bend, other arrangements were made, but that usually meant a face-to-face delivery using Crime Stoppers contacts in other counties. This was not an optimal situation to ensure anonymity.
Now, four more bank branches have been added; one in each Plymouth, Michigan City, St. Joseph, MI, and Elkhart. This also allows a tipster who may feel intimidated picking up a reward where they and the suspect live to choose a different location.
When determining a reward amount, the board of directors takes into consideration the severity of the crime, the number of people arrested, the number of cases solved, the quality of the information contained in the tip, and, when possible to determine, the risk to the tipster.
Most rewards for information leading to the arrest of fugitives are paid a standard amount. The reason for this is with fugitives law enforcement knows “who” did it, they just don’t know “where” they are. There are, however, occasions with special circumstances which will prompt a higher reward amount.
The speedy reward process pertains to the standard rewards for fugitives. In this case, immediately upon verification that a tip led to an arrest, an email is sent to the Executive board of directors requesting approval for the speedy reward. As soon as approval is received from two members a debit letter is prepared.
Since Crime Stoppers does not know names or call-back numbers for our tipsters, we rely on them to contact us to follow up on the status of their tip. When we determine at which branch the tipster prefers to pick up their cash the debit letter is faxed and the money is immediately available. Our record, so far, is 30 minutes from arrest to cash available! (Of course the contingent is that this occurs during the business hours of both the Crime Stoppers staff, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and bank hours).
Crime Stoppers posts some fugitives on the website, (MichianaCrimeStoppers.com), as received by law enforcement agencies. But this represents only a small percentage of people that are actually wanted on warrants. In other words, tips and rewards are not limited to only those published. However, rewards are paid only for felonies. Occasionally, a warrant may become inactive for various reasons. So, all warrants must be verified prior to arrest.