Crime Line business booming

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 16, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Whether it’s the opportunity to earn a reward of up to $1,000, or simply a desire to make Suffolk a safer place to live, police report that the callers are flooding the Suffolk Crime Line Hotline with information on individuals being sought by authorities.

Police Officer Mike Simpkins said that from the way the calls are coming in to the Crime Line phone, citizens of Suffolk are showing great support toward officers who are searching for people wanted by the police.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;Even more, the people who call Crime Line are showing that they are tired of having an unwanted element in their neighborhoods, and sometimes in their personal lives,&uot; said Simpkins. &uot;We recently had a brother who called in to tell police of the whereabouts of his sister. These callers just want these people off the streets, and they are rewarded for their efforts.&uot;

As Simpkins said, callers are paid in cash for providing information leading to an arrest of a person wanted on a police department warrant. Those cash rewards can be up to $1,000.

&uot;The rewards paid out depend upon the nature of the crime, its severity, and the impact it could have upon society, or whether someone is a victim of violence,&uot; said Simpkins, who serves as the link between the people of Suffolk and Crime Line. &uot;The Crime Line Board meets on a Wednesday during each month and we sit down to discuss each caller’s information that led to an arrest. Then, as a panel, we determine what the amount of each reward should be paid.&uot;

Once the board sets an amount, Simpkins waits to hear from the caller. He cannot call them to let them know they are to pick up an award because he has no idea who the caller was.

&uot;When someone calls the Suffolk Crime Line, they either speak directly to me or leave information on the wanted person on the Crime Line message line,&uot; the officer explained. &uot;At no time will they ever be required to give their name. Instead, I give them a special Crime Line code number and they use it for all subsequent calls including inquiring on where and when to pick up the reward. If they reach the message line, callers can leave their information and call back later for a code number, or they can call back to speak directly to me.&uot;

After the caller learns that a reward is due them, they meet with an unidentified person to pick up the cash reward. No questions are asked other than their code number. That is the only means of identification needed.

Simpkins added that he and other police officers make sure that callers to Crime Line are never identified by them or the public. Also, those who call Crime Line never testify in court.

The Crime Line phone number is 539-1222.