Citizens, Crime Line nab four suspects

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2003

Through a cooperative effort between citizens of Suffolk and the city’s Police Department, four men wanted by law enforcement have been apprehended and now face trial in Suffolk Circuit Court.

Police Officer Mike Simpkins, who serves as liaison between police and members of the community, said the &uot;Crime Line Wanted Flyer&uot; is definitely working for the people. Last week’s publication included six photographs of wanted men, and of that number four were captured thanks to phoned-in tips from people in the community.

Crime Line is a program developed as a tool of law enforcement and it involves the people of each of the cities it serves. Through Crime Line, wanted notices are put out for the public and they usually feature photographs of those being sought.

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&uot;The way the Crime Line works is that when someone recognizes a wanted person, they call 539-1222 and alert the police as to their whereabouts,&uot; said Simpkins. &uot;Once we get that tip, officers can look for the individual and most often we do find them. A telephone and a pencil are two tools that can make a few dollars for anyone who will pickup the phone and call to report either a crime or someone who is wanted.&uot;

Simpkins said the pencil should be used to write down as many facts as possible about the suspect’s description, his vehicle, clothing, any significant markings on his clothing or person (tattoos), and his exact whereabouts.

&uot;The more information you give the officers, the easier it is to apprehend the person,&uot; said Simpkins. &uot;Just make that phone call and we will do the rest. You do not have to give your name or address and you never have to testify in court. We do everything possible to protect your identity.&uot;

One other important aspect of Crime Line is the reward paid to those who call in tips. Once an arrest of the suspect is secured, the Crime Line board members meet to deliberate on the amount of the reward to be paid to the caller. The board members meet once a month at Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

Rewards are paid by a local bank when the caller arrives with a number assigned to him by Simpkins. That is the only means of identification required to pick up the reward. No names, addresses or phone numbers are ever requested. Only that pre-assigned number.

He said Crime Line has been so successful in the past that police nearly emptied their &uot;warrant drawer&uot; at one time.

&uot;We had worked it down from several drawers full of warrants for wanted people to less than half of one drawer,&uot; Simpkins explained. &uot;That shows that Crime Line is an extremely effective tool. People have been very cooperative and the calls are coming in. If we get the calls, we can find the people. This kind of relationship between the law and the community is invaluable. Not only are they helping the community, but we’re going to pay them to do it.&uot;

Crime Line is a program initiated as a private organization funded by donations and operated through police departments across the country.