Crime Line seeks help

Published 10:26 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

During 25 years of helping police solve crimes, the Suffolk Crime Line has put out thousands of requests for anonymous tipsters.

Now, for the first time in its history, the group is asking people to step forward, give their names and volunteer to serve on its board of directors.

“Our bylaws have a set number of members, and we’ve never been at that [maximum],” board member Cathy Richards said.

Email newsletter signup

A membership drive will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at SunTrust Bank, 123 N. Main St. A short program will inform attendees on the purpose of the board, what members do and why the work is important.

“We just figured this was one way to try to boost it,” Richards said.

In the organization’s history, it has helped solve 14 homicides, arrest 435 people wanted for felonies and misdemeanors, recover more than $400,000 in drugs and drug paraphernalia and recover more than $450,000 in personal and corporate property. It has paid out more than $75,000 in rewards.

The private organization operates solely on donations and fundraisers. It receives no government funding.

The organization has seen an increase in callers lately, Richards said.

“I guess, maybe, that’s due to the economy,” she said. “They know it’s a way of getting free money.”

Board members have two primary duties, Richards said — to help raise money and to help determine rewards for tipsters.

“The big thing is fundraisers,” she said. “That’s what it takes to have a Crime Line board to be able to pay rewards.”

Members meet monthly to review cases with a police coordinator and determine rewards.

Board membership does not cost any money, but it does require a background check. In addition to helping with fundraisers, board members also are asked to seek out a minimum of $300 a year in donations, in part by speaking at civic organizations about the Crime Line.

Attendees at today’s event will be able to talk to current board members and obtain information about their responsibilities. Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett also will be in attendance “to say a few words about how important the Crime Line is to the police department,” Richards said.

For more information on the Crime Line or tonight’s event, contact Richards at 986-5030.