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Citizen tip key to fighting crimes
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A problem that impedes police departments' crime-solving abilities is the reluctance of some to "get involved" by reporting violations, violent crimes in particular.

Some people simply do not want to get involved because it is inconvenient for them and it is "not their problem." Others do not want to end up in court as witnesses, while yet others are intimidated and afraid of retribution.

Undocumented foreign nationals are prone to avoid talking to the police for fear of deportation. And in some instances, there is a mindset that being a "rat" or "snitch" is unacceptable within certain social circles - that cooperating with the police is worse than the crime itself. Whatever the reason, we all pay a price when members of the community choose to not assist the police in solving crimes. Criminals become empowered and their numbers multiply when they know that a community will cower in the wake of criminal acts.

One option at the community's disposal, however, is Stanislaus County Crime Stoppers, which is a community based, non-profit organization of citizens working against crime in conjunction with the criminal justice system. This program provides complete anonymity to people who have knowledge about who committed a certain crime and any details associated with it. Anonymous calls can be made to our local Crime Stoppers to provide leads and information on unsolved crimes. If the information leads to arrests, the callers receive cash rewards of up to $1,000.

Anonymity is ensured by providing the caller with a code number to allow for collection of the reward. The identity of the caller is never known to the police or anyone else. This anonymity is the cornerstone to the effectiveness of Crime Stoppers, so the system in place to ensure anonymity is well-devised and carefully protected. To date, the Stanislaus County Crime Stoppers program has helped arrest 196 wanted suspects thanks to tips received.

Some people question the motivation of Crime Stoppers callers. They assert that they are turning in criminals solely for the monetary reward or as an act of retribution. Since we do not know who the callers are, their motives are unknown. I feel that most callers wish to see justice carried out while keeping their identities concealed and eliminating the threat of reprisal. Crime Stoppers is the best mechanism to achieve that goal.

The Modesto Police Department was the first in Stanislaus County to participate in the program. In recent years the following agencies have also joined in the effort to provide maximum benefits county-wide: Stanislaus Sheriff, Stanislaus District Attorney, Cal State University Turlock, Turlock Police, California Highway Patrol, the Ceres Police Department, California Department of Corrections-Parole, the Department of Justice-ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Newman Police and Oakdale Police.

Crime Stoppers is an important tool in this age of public concern about retribution and the other issues that come into play when providing police with tips about crimes and suspects. And Crime Stoppers is not a governmental agency; rather, it is fully funded and controlled by concerned citizens who care about their communities. The program depends solely on donations from the public.

For information about wanted suspects, "capture" statistics, donations, etc., the local Crime Stoppers website is at The hotline is 209 521-4636.