News Category: Latest News

Captain Crime Stoppers in Nation’s Capital

Improved Crime Stoppers tips net more guns, stolen property, arrests

Erin McCracken

Ottawa East News I Jan 22, 2016

Taking part in a ceremony at Ottawa police headquarters on Jan. 22 to mark January as Crime Stoppers Month were OC Transpo Supt. Jim McIntyre, left, OPP east region insp. Stephanie Patterson, Crime Stoppers coordinator Ottawa police Sgt. Arthur Wong, Richard McMullen, president o! National Capital Area Crime Stoppers, Ottawa Centre MPP YasIr Naqvi, Coon, Eli El-Chantiry, Ottawa police Chief Charter Bordeleau and Dave Forster, president of the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers.
While tips to Ottawa’s Crime Stoppers program were down four per cent last year compared to 2014, the quality of tips improved, allowing police to net more guns, drugs, stolen property and suspects.

"The quality of the tips has dramatically improved and that helps investigators when they go to close a case or investigation," said Richard McMullen, president of National Capital Area Crime Stoppers, one of 38 chapters in Ontario. "Clearly, the number of results, in terms of arrests and criminal cases being cleared, has dramatically increased."

Last year, 3,900 calls came in, and tipsters are providing more details, such as a suspect’s last known address and full name.

That has helped police recover more stolen property. Last year, investigators seized $81,123 worth, compared to just $2,625 in 2014, likely up because of the higher value of property recovered, McMullen said.

Tips also led police to 15 guns in 2015, up from five in 2014.

"Gun violence is something that we take seriously, as do the police partners that we engage with, and 15 fewer firearms is significant," McMullen said.

"For the police, the Crime Stoppers program contributes to shorter investigations and better evidence," Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said during a ceremony at Ottawa police headquarters on Jan. 22 to recognize the organization’s success last year and mark January as Crime Stoppers Month.

Tips to Ottawa’s Crime Stoppers also led to 74 arrests in 2015, an increase from 36 the year before.

The quality of the tips resulted in the approval of $13,750 in reward money to tipsters last year, up from $6,740 in 2014; made possible by sponsors, fundraisers and private donations.

Criminal charges laid in Ottawa also rose a result. There were 291 charges laid in 2015, an increase from 150 in 2014. Police also seized $179,389 in narcotics last year, up from $104,617 the year before, thanks to anonymous tips.

"That has a direct impact on making our community safe," said Bordeleau, who was joined at the ceremony by McMullen, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau, West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, chair of the Ottawa police services board, Dave Forster, president of the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers, and Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, minister of community safety and correctional services.

The ministry provides the Ontario association with $225,000 annually to help fund the Ontario Crime Stoppers 24-hour call centre.

"I can’t help but think an increase in all of these reported metrics has something to do with our increased engagement with the community," said McMullen.

The 31-year-old organization, which was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2012-13, has doubled its efforts since then to boost its presence at community events, including in vulnerable Ottawa neighbourhoods.

"Sometimes it might be a Saturday group barbecue in Russell Heights or any number of communities," McMullen said. "We’ve done a fair bit of work at the Jasmine Crescent community and participated in grassroots community events (where) we’re able to get exposure and be out in the community."

Media partners and social media have helped get the word out, linking the public with videos, images and descriptions of crimes and suspects.

Continued exposure is key to dispelling misconceptions that tipsters who report information to Crime Stoppers are expected to testify in court or their information is passed on to police, McMullen said.

"We are not the police. We are independent," he said. "We don’t take the (caller’s) information to begin with."