Crime Stoppers International Foundation or CSI Foundation (CSI) is an umbrella organization that aims to spread the Crimestoppers program in countries around the world. Crimestoppers is a program designed to utilize the media and other resources to entice information from the public that can facilitate police investigations. CSI is run by a volunteer board and its activities include hosting annual training conferences and supporting regional leadership and training programs. CSI coordinates networking resources for local Crimestoppers' operations, such as a website and a print publications called The Caller. It is funded by dues paid by member organizations. Some of the services CSI provides to its members include an annual awards program for local Crimestoppers operations, produces an operations manual to assist new programs and to help set up and guide new Crimestopper programs, and providing legal services to its members. CSI is based in Austin, Texas.|
On its website, CSI lists its mission statement as the following: "To develop Crime Stoppers as an effective crime-solving organization throughout the world, with the primary objective of the tri-partite organization, Community, Media and Law Enforcement, being, Working Together to Solve Crime".
The Crimestoppers program began in the 1970s as an innovation to solve a crime that was committed with no witnesses and few leads for police investigators. The main idea is to produce televised re-enactments, offer rewards and promises of anonymity for information leading to an arrest. Detective Greg MacAleese was investigating the murder of a gas station attendant, Michael Carmen, in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1976 when he came up with the idea. At the time, Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the US. Its crime rate has since improved.
The authorities, especially the police, cannot solve many crimes on their own. Forensic science and investigative skills are vital, along with information from the public. Crimestoppers recognizes that someone other than criminals may have information about crime, and was developed to combat the three major problems of law enforcement agencies:
- fear of reprisals
- apathy on the part of the public
- reluctance to get involved.
- anonymity (callers are given a code number instead of being asked for their name and calls are neither traced nor recorded).
- paying of rewards when their information leads to an arrest.
In Canada, a Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v . Leipert,  1 S.C.R. 281 ruled unanimously that police do not have to disclose any information they receive from this internationally recognized crime prevention program. “The rule of informer privilege is of such fundamental importance to the workings of a criminal justice system it cannot be balanced against other interest relating to the administration of justice... Once the privilege has been established, neither the police nor the court possesses discretion to abridge it.”
Crimestoppers first began in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the USA during July 1976 which saw the fatal shooting of a university co-ed working one night at a local filling station. After two weeks the police had no information when out of desperation Detective Greg MacAleese approached the local television station requesting a reconstruction of the crime. The re-enactment offered US$ 1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest of the killers.
Within 72 hours, a person called in identifying a car leaving the scene at high speed and he had noted its registration. The person calling said that he did not want to get involved so he had not called earlier.
Detective MacAleese then realized that fear and apathy were the primary reasons why the public tended not to get involved. So he helped design a system where the public could anonymously provide details of the events.
To overcome these he targeted three areas of need:
- Stimulating community involvement and participation in Crimestoppers
- Taking advantage of every possible media opportunity, especially electronic media, to publicise unsolved crimes, and
- Offering cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and/or conviction.
Crimestoppers could possibly be abused as it would seem to allow for the anonymous filing of false reports on allegedly innocent individuals. Its secrecy could allow for law enforcement officials to secretly investigate individuals.
- 1200 programs in over 17 countries
- Over one million solved cases
- Over 500,000 arrests
- US$1.3 billion in recovered property
- US$4.3 billion in seized drugs
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