Paul Hawkins, chairperson of Rochester Area Crime Stoppers, recently spoke to the Victor-Farmington Rotary Club. The Perinton resident retired from the FBI in 2006 after more than 30 years with the bureau.
Crime Stoppers provides an anonymous tip line at (585) 423-9300, along with a felony fugitive flyer, reward fund and web tip program. Hawkins’ presentation included an outline of the local organization’s early history.
The first Crime Stoppers chapter was organized in 1976 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hawkins credited Warren Doremus, a former broadcaster/reporter in Rochester, for initiating the movement to create a local chapter in 1982. The Crime Stoppers program has expanded throughout the U.S. and Canada over the years.
Crime Stoppers allows residents to provide anonymous information about criminal activity. The organizations usually are managed by nonprofit groups that work with local police agencies, as well as media organizations to involve the community in reducing crime and identifying criminal perpetrators.
Rochester Area Crime Stoppers provides funding for rewards, which go to those providing information that helps law enforcement agencies in Monroe County arrest criminal offenders, locate wanted fugitives, learn of potential criminal activity, recover stolen property or seize illegal drugs.
Hawkins said the Rochester chapter has a 25-member board of directors. All are volunteers and receive no compensation. The group’s annual $50,000 operating budget pays for the rewards.
All police agencies in Monroe County are involved in the program. Crime Stoppers has two coordinators: the Rochester Police Department handles information on criminal activity, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office handles information on fugitives and fugitive warrants. All incoming tips are forwarded to the law enforcement agency involved with the case.
Hawkins said the Rochester chapter is set up for Monroe County, but will provide media access for external agencies to facilitate a request for assistance on criminal matters.
Crime Stoppers meets meets monthly with law enforcement representatives, with a member of the New York State Police acting as a liaison. Crime Stoppers decides what tips should be considered for a reward, based on the type of crime involved and the significance of the information.