The hope was the increased reward amount would make more people come forward with anonymous information that would solve homicides that take place in Kansas City, Mo., and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Indeed, homicide tips, specifically, have gone up a bit, according to Crime Stoppers Coordinator Detective Kevin Boehm. The percentage of those that are valid remains about the same, however.
Overall, tips from across the metro area to Crime Stoppers have increased by about 10 percent over the past two years. The actual number of phone calls is going down, but tips submitted online and through the P3 Tips app have gone up.
Since increasing the possible reward for KCMO homicide information to $10,000 a year ago, four individuals have submitted tips that qualify for the full reward. But a funny thing has happened: none of them has claimed the money. Maybe doing the right thing was more important. I certainly respect that, and it’s not that unusual. In the 300 Crime Stopper programs nationwide, about 60 to 70 percent of all tip pay-outs are never collected.
For some people, however, money is a great motivator. I just wanted to ensure that everyone knows how anonymous the process is for submitting and collecting on successful tips. Here’s how it works:
A tipster calls 816-474-8477 (TIPS), uses the free P3 Tips mobile app or the www.KCCrimeStoppers.com website to submit a tip. Crime Stoppers staff members take a tip report with the tipster referred to as “the caller” or “tipster.” It’s gender- neutral, ensuring anonymity. Once the tipster has provided the tip, they are issued a code number. They can use that code to check on the status of their tip or add additional information. Crime Stoppers sends the information to the applicable investigative element or agency. (They serve the entire Kansas City metro area, not just KCPD.)
If a tip leads to an arrest, the agency or element will contact the Hotline and inform them of the results of the arrest. That information is entered into a database, and Crime Stoppers staff recommend a reward amount. They take those recommendations to the monthly Crime Stoppers Board meeting, where the 40-plus member board votes and approves the reward amounts on each valid case.
Because it’s anonymous, Crime Stoppers can’t call a tipster and let them know a reward has been approved. The tipster must call back with their code number to check on the status of their tip. If they have the proper code and can verify the information they already gave, they are given a pay-out date, location and an additional code word. Pay-outs take place at locations throughout the metro area. Neither Crime Stoppers staff nor law enforcement ever sees the tipster.
I want to keep the $10,000 reward in the public eye for the hundreds of grieving family members who are waiting for justice in the murder of their loved one. I also want to assure anyone who may have the information we need to solve a case that they can provide that information completely anonymously and earn a handsome pay-out while doing the right thing.
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