Can you really get cash and stay anonymous at Crimestoppers?

Thursday, January 31st 2008, 9:41 pm
By: News On 6

I get questions all the time from people who don't believe it's really safe to call Crimestoppers at 596-COPS in Tulsa. They figure a cop answers the phone and will ask their name or hunt them down and pressure them to testify.

Others figure you might be anonymous until you show up to get the cash reward and that's when they get your name and address.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but, Crimestoppers really is totally anonymous.  To guarantee it stays that way, Oklahoma legislators passed a law that says nobody has a right to know who called, which means police can't find out and defense attorneys can't get a subpoena to find out later when the case goes to trial.

It's true, the Crimestoppers phone used to be answered by a police officer, who would take it home at night, to make sure no calls were missed, but, that's no longer the case.

The Tulsa area Crimestoppers line is now answered by a service located in Canada. They don't have a clue who anyone is in Green Country and won't try to find out. The advantage of this system is they can answer several calls at once, as opposed to one at a time, like before. Plus, they have operators who speak different languages. They type up the tip and send it to Tulsa, where TPD Officer Leland Ashley gets it to the correct detective.

So, how do you get paid? When you call in the tip, you're given a secret code number.  The Citizens Crime Commission is the group in Tulsa that runs the Crimestoppers program. The Commission is made up of regular citizens, bankers, insurance agents, etc.  They're volunteers and they meet once a month and vote on how much each caller gets for each arrest that was made thanks to a tip. Sometimes they give $50. Sometimes they give $1,000. If you hear police made an arrest (hopefully by watching the News on 6), you call back and they tell you to go to a specific Tulsa bank. You give the teller your secret code number, they hand you the cash. That's it. They don't make you sign anything or show an i.d.

The goal of the program is really just to solve crimes. Sure, police wish people would get involved, come forward, make statements and testify, but, they realize that's not always going to happen, so Crimestoppers is still a way for them to get the information they need without putting anybody in harm's way.