Anonymous tips often can lead to action by the police
BENTON -- There are often times that citizens want to give information regarding a crime. But they don't want to get too involved, either.
Anonymous tip lines give people a way to do just that. And just last week, the Scott County Sheriff's Department made that easier, by establishing a toll free tip hotline.
"I just hope that we'll get some good tips on some unsolved crimes that we've got out there," said Lt. Jerry Bledsoe.
He noted that the toll free number is simply a continuation of other efforts, including web tips that can be submitted anonymously via the department and county's Web sites, which has been set up for the past few years.
"Believe it or not, there are actually some people out there who still don't have the Internet and this covers the ones that don't actually have access to the Internet or Internet in their house," said Bledsoe. "And, some people would rather dial a phone number and say what they have to say opposed to typing it into some form."
Chief Deputy Tommy Horton of the nearby Stoddard County Sheriff's Department said the office had previously used an 800 number like the one Scott County just set up. "And there wasn't a great deal of response, believe it or not."
Now, the department relies on tips to the office's main number, 568-4554, or e-mailed to himself and the sheriff. Those addresses can be found at the county's Web site, www.stoddardcosd.com.
The two agreed there is a need for the public to be aware of ways they can get involved; and those tips often lead to police action.
"Since we've had it on the Internet, at least 90 percent of the crime tips that we have received, we've been able to do something with," said Bledsoe. "We even completely solved one armed robbery."
He noted that it's always easier for people to come in, give a statement and testiy in court. "But when you're working any type of crime, a tip is still helpful."
When done under the condition of anonymity, someone can help out without fearing repercussions.
"A lot of people like that confidentiality aspect of the program," said Horton. "It kind of gives them an expectation of privacy, but they do get the confidence of being able to report an incident or what they feel is a criminal act of some type."
Stoddard County is receiving more tips than ever now "because people are tired of being victims," said Horton. "This gives them an opportunity to take a proactive approach and be a little bit more aggressive in trying to get these people that are committing these crimes brought to justice."
Bledsoe said Scott County gets a lot of tips dealing with Internet crimes and sexual predators. He urged people to submit a tip, in whatever form they wish, if they suspect a crime. "Any type of tip that we recieve is a welcome tip," he said. "If we get a crime tip, somebody checks into it -- it's not something that's just ignored.
Scott County's crime tip link is available at the county's Web site, www.scottcountymo.com. People with information to share can also call the toll free hotline at 1-866-210-4322.