History of Crime Stoppers
One Officer’s Vision: How the Crime Stoppers concept began.
Crime Stoppers was the idea of a man named Greg MacAleese, a police officer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. After helplessly watching Albuquerque’s rising crime rate and seeing the public’s fear of the criminal element, he felt something had to be done to change people’s attitudes towards getting involved. MacAleese knew that for just about every crime, someone other than the offender knew about it and could help law enforcement solve the case. The challenge was to get the right information from the right person at the right time. MacAleese understood the importance of citizen involvement in reporting a crime. The only question seemed to be, “How do you motivate people to get involved?”
His idea took a two-pronged approach:
- To overcome apathy (indifference), cash awards must be offered
- To overcome people’s fear of criminal retaliation, or fear of involvement, it would be necessary to offer anonymity.
Discussions with the Albuquerque Police Department indicated that award money should come from the general public instead of through tax dollars (to this day, Crime Stoppers is a civilian-run organization; there is no government intervention at all). It was suggested that a civilian Board of Directors be created to lend integrity to the program. It was also decided that awards would only be paid after information received by Crime Stoppers had produced a tangible result.
Crime Stoppers pays awards based on arrest (not conviction) of the person responsible for a particular crime. This speeds up payment of awards to tipsters and assures that police forces are well on their way to achieving a successful solution to the crime.
Crime Stoppers proves successful
The first call on September 8, 1976, quickly turned doubters into believers.
Other communities, hearing of Albuquerque’s success, soon adopted the Crime Stoppers concept. They quickly learned that the program could also be effective for them. The first Canadian Crime Stoppers program was established in Calgary, Alberta in 1982.
The Crime Stoppers program is a three-way partnership involving private citizens, the media, and the police community. Getting people to care is what Crime Stoppers is all about.
Since 1976, more than 1,500 Crime Stoppers programs have been established worldwide in 26 countries.
Province just got a little safer: Crime Stoppers comes to New Brunswick
In February 1985, a motion was passed at a meeting of the New Brunswick Association of Chiefs of Police that called for the implementation of a Crime Stoppers program in central New Brunswick. With the approval of the provincial Attorney-General, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police set up a mini-task force, comprised of two RCMP officers and one Fredericton Police Force officer.
These people began studying the Crime Stoppers program as a whole and went on to establish chapters in the Woodstock, Fredericton, Oromocto, Minto, and Chipman areas of New Brunswick. Several private citizens throughout the province volunteered to help and they became part of an organization that would later be known as N.B. Crime Stoppers Inc./ Échec au crime N.-B. Inc.
Four local/regional Boards (chapters) were formed. While staying independent, they would remain under the umbrella of the parent organization, N.B. Crime Stoppers. These four boards were: Western N.B. Crime Stoppers; Capital Region Crime Stoppers; Oromocto Crime Stoppers (later renamed Oromocto-Gagetown); and Grand Lake Area Crime Stoppers. In the past 34 years, the program has grown to encompass all of New Brunswick. As of 2019, 20 local/regional Chapters make up N.B. Crime Stoppers Inc., with approximately 300 volunteers. Many of these people have been members since the program’s inception in 1985.