Greater Springfield Area Crime Stoppers saw a record year in 2017. The Community Partnership of the Ozarks program, saw an increase of 135 percent in tip follow-ups. Tip follow-ups occur when a tipster calls back into the Crime Stoppers hotline or leaves a message in its anonymous chat, according to Rachel Kleemann, a Springfield police officer and Coordinator of Crime Stoppers.
Because of the Crime Stoppers program, Kleemann said, law enforcement has a better chance of apprehending criminals.
“Basically, Crime Stoppers works together with the citizens in Greene County to provide anonymous crime information to law enforcement.”
According to Community Partnership, the program received 1,186 tips for review in 2017 via hotline and online tips. There were approximately 800 tip follow-ups in 2016 compared to 2,437 follow-ups in 2017. Also last year, $98,439 worth of narcotics was seized, which is up from $8,077 in 2016.
Kleemann believes the increase is due to an educational campaign Community Partnership held last year to raise awareness of Crime Stoppers, which people responded to.
“I think people just want a way to reduce crime, keep their community safer, their kids safer, and this is one way to do that, through providing anonymous information through Crime Stoppers.”
Contrary to what people may assume, Crime Stoppers is completely separate from law enforcement. According to Kleemann, all information either has to come through their hotline number (417-869-TIPS) or online. Once anonymous tips are submitted, it’s up to Kleemann to go through them.
“I sanitize the tips, take out any identifying information if there’s anything like that in the tip, I do research using police resources, and then I assign the tip to law enforcement for investigation.”
Once the investigation is complete, if it’s successful, Kleemann will contact tipsters about a possibly monetary reward, which is decided by a vote of the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors. Awards can be as high as $1000. According to the Community Partnership, $2,550 was paid out in cash rewards last year.
The awards as well as Crime Stoppers’ operational costs are financed through fundraisers and donations.
Looking forward as the program continues to grow, Kleemann says they’ll continue to work to educate the community, as in this video posted by the Springfield Police.
“We are looking as a board and as a program to get more involved, continue to educate people on what we do and who we are, and continue to use those educational opportunities to advance the program and arrest more suspects.”
If you’d like to get involved with Crime Stoppers by serving on its board of directors, contact Kleemann at (417) 864-1835.