Report anonymously to Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta

Atlanta police cite the Secoriea Turner case as one of many examples where anonymous tipsters have helped them track down suspects.

ATLANTA — Local investigators rely on Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta to tackle crime.

The non-profit program allows people to anonymously report what they know of a crime that has been committed. Every day, around 50 people call the program, giving advice to detectives to help move a case forward.

Across the state of Georgia, 168 agencies use Crime Stoppers to get advice from community members. The Atlanta Police Department is one of them. Atlanta Police Sergeant Ronald Paxson leads the program.

“Every month we prove seven to ten awards. Sometimes more,” he told 11Alive’s Paola Suro in an interview.

Reporting anonymously can often lead to a cash reward. Paxson said in Atlanta that the program pays out up to $2,000, which is above the national average of up to $1,000.

“Every case is different,” he said. “For violent crimes, you’re going to get closer to $2,000.”

Sometimes relatives of a victim donate money to increase the reward for witnesses who wish to speak out anonymously.

A tipster can report information in several ways:

Paxson said they receive roughly the same amount of tips across all platforms.

“Once they submit information, they are given an advice number and password. Only they know it, unless they share it with someone else,” a- he declared. “If you provide good information, that’s the only way to get paid.”

Paxson and his team then forward this information to one of 168 designated agencies using Crime Stoppers and send it to the appropriate detective.

“Sometimes it will take a week. Sometimes it will take a month – it all depends on how long the investigation takes,” he said. “Ultimately [the agency] will let us know that a tipster gave them very good information. For example, they identified a suspect, they gave us a location, or they gave us the location of a gun, or a house that was selling narcotics and they executed a search warrant and people been arrested.”

If the report helps the agency, the information is then forwarded to a civilian board to vote on the value of each tip. The more helpful the tip, the more likely the person is to receive a reward.

At this point, Paxson is out of the equation, and the decision on the value of that tip rests with the group of civilians on the Crime Stoppers board. The money is then sent to an undisclosed bank in town, where the tipster must use their tip number to collect it.

They don’t have to show a single piece of identification in any form. However, it is important to note that the tipster should call to verify if their tip resulted in a reward.

“It’s an anonymous bank here in town. Once the tip is approved, they have 90 days to call back and get the info to get it back. So the only way to get that info is with that tip ID. “, said Paxson. .

Paxson says less than 50% of people eligible for a reward collect it, though the process is completely anonymous from start to finish.

While the program averages around 50 calls per day, this number increases during events with violent crimes.

Paxson recalls when hundreds of calls a day poured into the hotline in July 2020.

“It got to the point where we couldn’t read them all,” he said. “So we were reading some that were two or three days old, just because we had a backlog of hundreds and hundreds of advice on that specific case.”

This case, being the case of Secoriea Turner. The 8-year-old girl was shot and killed on July 4, 2020 while riding in the car with her mother, not far from where Rayshard Brooks was killed.

RELATED: ‘Everyone Should Be Held Accountable’ | Secoriea Turner’s family speak after two defendants charged in her death

Shortly after, a suspect was arrested but investigators said they were looking for others.

Her father, Secoriey Williamson, told 11Alive that the grieving process has been more difficult over the years.

“She was a daddy’s girl. She was a fearless black kid. She loved to have fun. She loved TikTok. She loved to dance,” he recalled, smiling. “She befriended anyone very quickly. She was a good kid. Unfortunately, she didn’t get a chance to see her future.”

Williamson wore a hat and shirt with Secoriea’s face on it. He remembers how difficult it was when there was only one suspect behind bars for over a year.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow. Losing a child with my name on it. My name is Secoriey, her name is Secoriea. It’s like I almost lost myself,” he said. “I just wanted his killer caught. I didn’t want it to be a cold case.”

A second suspect was arrested in August 2021.

Williamson’s lawyer, Mawuli Davis, adds that when the arrests were made there was a sense of relief, but it was only a step towards justice.

“We contacted many community organizations, many people who work in the community, asking for help,” he recalls. “There was a sense of relief on behalf of the family. Everyone was angry and frustrated that people would know something about a murdered child, and not talk about it and say nothing.”

As hundreds of calls came in to Crime Stoppers, Williamson felt a glimmer of hope.

“It’s a good feeling to know that the community and the people are behind you and they want justice done,” Williamson said. “We lose black children to this day and the killers are still not found. I hope they [call in] for every child, not just mine.”

RELATED: Secoriea Turner’s father speaks out after judge denies defense motion to sever cases

Paxson said that while he can’t see how much tipsters won in this specific case, he knows several eyewitnesses and concerned citizens helped investigators identify the suspects.

The year of Secoriea’s death was also the same year that Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta received a record number of calls since its inception in 2005.

“We’re going through a global pandemic and crime has also skyrocketed. There was a lot of anti-police rhetoric at the time, so you’d think tips would go down, people would be less hesitant to talk to the police and share information. We have seen the exact opposite,” he said.

The program received 5,400 calls in 2020 compared to 4,300 in 2021. Each call is one step closer to closure for families like Secoriea’s.

“If you see something happen to a child, you should say something,” Williamson pleaded. “All children need justice. This is our future. Just to see that someone has been captured was a huge relief. [otherwise] it would make the grief even worse.”

Davis said the family will be present at every court appearance during the trial.

“At some point, letting the jury know who Secoriea was so she’s not just a name, but remembered for the precious soul that she was,” Davis continued. “It’s just heartbreaking that the city of Atlanta has truly let down this child and her family and every life she touched.”

Each call is also a step closer to solving crimes for detectives.

“It’s hugely rewarding to rush when you read something that looks like it might solve something important,” Paxson added.

Funds for the awards are raised by the Atlanta Police Foundation. The group hosts fundraising events each year and the program receives annual donations.

“Without the donations and the supporters, we wouldn’t have the money to pay the tipsters,” Paxson said.

Rewards are given for any information that can help detectives.

“Maybe you saw something suspicious a few blocks away that you thought about at the time and now maybe the next day you see a crime has happened,” Paxson said. . “All that little nuanced information that you don’t think might be useful, it can be very valuable.”

Although the value can sometimes reach $2,000, it is invaluable information for families who are grieving and hoping for closure.

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Mark M. Gagnon