The hotline set up for the community to anonymously report crimes always has someone answering calls.
But it’s not Guam Crime Stoppers.
The Guam Daily Post confirmed to local organization board chairman James McDonald that the hotline has not been in use since at least the summer of 2021.
“We are coordinating this line with G4S,” McDonald said.
A G4S Security operator answered the call when The Post dialed the helpline number (671) 477-HELP, but the operator said it was the security company and not Crime Stoppers.
The company had no further comment.
McDonald said the problem is that the company has undergone management changes, adding that it needs to update the memorandum of understanding required for the security company to take calls.
“It was working, but they weren’t answering the phone. I told them they couldn’t do that because if there was a loss of life they could be held responsible,” he said. “I told them what about those who don’t use computers or don’t have cell phones? They will use this hard line. It’s a challenge for me to keep pushing that.
McDonald said Richard Carter, director of legal services for Crime Stoppers of the United States of America Inc., has since reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding and the document is awaiting signature by G4S Guam management.
“It’s a black and white document advising them that they won’t be responsible for the charges, and the phone line is a donation from (a) phone company, and their staff training will be provided by Crime Stoppers or GPD We also have them sign a non-disclosure form, so everything stays confidential,” he said. “It’s a matter of life and death.”
It is always possible to provide information online.
This option can be found on the organization’s website: http://guam.crimestoppersweb.com/
“The Crime Stoppers website or hotline is one of many tools the Guam Police Department uses to assist in any investigation, providing possible anonymous leads or advice,” the official said. DPG spokesman Berlyn Savella, who said the phone situation with Crime Stoppers has not hampered day-to-day police operations. “(The tip line) is just an information point that officers can use without risk to the people providing the information,” according to Savella.
McDonald said the police chief asked why his officers couldn’t just take over answering the hotline.
“If it’s a government entity answering the phone, it can be subpoenaed. That’s what federal law says. But, if it’s a private business or non-profit organization non-profit, then they are protected by law,” he said.
McDonald said he hopes the hotline will be restored soon.
The organization reports that Guam Crime Stoppers received their first local call on August 26, 1985.