How does the tip line work?

For years, local television stations have aired surveillance videos of a suspect or a crime in progress with the “Crime Stoppers” stamp on it asking for the public’s help.

Last week, the Crime Stoppers tip line was a key part of locating Frank James, the suspect in the Sunset Park subway shooting.

Advice provided to the hotline also helped catch the suspected serial killer who police say targeted homeless people in New York and DC

But how does Crime Stoppers work behind the scenes? And where does this tip come from?

Police Foundation President and CEO Susan Birnbaum and Sergeant Richard Wall of the NYPD Crime Stoppers Unit joined NY1 to answer these questions.

Crime Stoppers started in the 1980s. Since its inception, they have given away approximately $2 million in rewards.

The foundation of the police began 50 years ago. They fund programs that bring the police and community together, and programs that fight crime and terrorism.

The most important thing for people to know is that all calls are anonymous and translators are also available.

Call 1-800-577-8477, or text CRIMES, then enter TIP577, or visit, if you have any tips, because these really make a difference.

Mark M. Gagnon