Crime stoppers meet online success

October 22 – It’s been 37 years since Great Bend and Barton County Crime Stoppers began offering cash rewards for anonymous tips. With timely crime intelligence, local law enforcement made 480 arrests and closed 438 cases, said Jere Buehler of the Crime Stoppers board. The group also paid out $ 98,550 in cash rewards.

“We are probably one of the only organizations in our region that wants to donate money,” Buehler said. “Our motto is, we don’t want your name, just your information.”

Thanks to new technologies, it’s easier than ever to share a tip. People can call 620-792-1300 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to leave anonymous crime information. And for long distance calls from outside Great Bend, the toll-free number is 1-888-305-1300.

Now people can also tip online, from a computer or smartphone, by going to the P3 Global Intel website, p3tips.com. The P3 Tips app is available for Apple and Android phones.

“We are completely anonymous,” Buehler said. Phone calls went to a dedicated line in the police station. Because calls are anonymous, the phone was only an option when there was someone to answer it. But as of 2019 and until today, phone calls are now routed to a 24-hour call center in Texas. “It adds another layer of anonymity,” Buehler said.

Tips received are almost evenly split between phone calls and web / app users, Buehler said.

These technological advancements have also led to faster results, as the call center can also contact the local 911 dispatcher for an immediate response if needed. And that means Barton County can network with other Crime Stoppers organizations.

“A week ago, we had information about a fugitive from Barton County who came from the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers organization,” Buehler said. “They sent it to us for action. Then last week we networked with a Crime Stoppers organization in Memphis; a tip on a crime in Memphis apparently came from our area.” The Tennessee organization sent the award money to Barton County, where it was collected. “We don’t know where this person came from. We don’t want to know,” he said, stressing that anonymity is a Crime Stoppers requirement.

How it works

Anonymous informants leave information about a crime that has occurred or is being planned. They can also leave information about the location of a person with a current warrant. Even information about suspicious activity can help law enforcement authorities build a case.

The tipster is given a code number and can check later if the information has won a reward. It may take a while, Buehler said. The Crime Stoppers Board of Directors meets monthly and decides whether any tips have helped solve or prevent a crime, lead to an arrest or recover property.

“At our last meeting, we handed out four awards totaling $ 1,250,” said Buehler. Timely advice led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle, and others led law enforcement to find people whose warrants were pending.

If a tip is helpful, the person who won a reward is invited to a certain bank and will be instructed on how to retrieve an envelope with money in it. The identity of the person is never revealed and the rewards are not subject to income tax return, regardless of the amount.

All the money for the rewards comes from donations. “Thanks to the kindness of the donors, our rewards have increased dramatically,” said Buehler.

Growing interest

Crime Stoppers needs public participation to work, Buehler noted. Unfortunately, only one call was received last December. The good news is that participation has increased in recent months.

Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark added a Great Bend and Barton County Crime Stoppers ‘Most Wanted’ poster to the GBPD Facebook page, which led to no less than 25 tips at May.

Results

Here are some statistics on the success of Crime Stoppers from its inception in 1984 until October 19, 2021:

Arrests – 480

Cases resolved – 438

Rewards Paid – $ 98,550

Value of loss of arson – $ 200,000

Homicides – 5

Recovered property – $ 1,100,540

Drug seized – $ 1,174,850

Total recovered – $ 2,245,390

Mark M. Gagnon