History was created, last year, when the Toronto Crime Stoppers (TCS) program received 12,701 tips, the highest in the 34-year history of the organization.
The tips from the public led to 126 arrests, 146 charges, the recovery of $265,417 in property and the seizure of $1,119,671 in illegal narcotics.
Tips taken resulted in arrests for homicide, internet child-luring, child abuse, sexual assaults, break-and-enters, robberies, human trafficking and various drug offences.
The TCS program was launched in 1984, after then-Chief Jack Marks asked now-retired Staff Superintendent Gary Grant – a sergeant at the time – to start the initiative.
“I still marvel at the amazing success of this program,” Grant said, at the launch on January 11 at police headquarters. “The key to that success isn’t a mystery. It is because Crime Stoppers is a true partnership. It’s not just a police or media program or the public deciding to do good work. It’s a true partnership between the police, media and the public.”
Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred or is about to occur can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637) or Leave A Tip on Facebook.
Mayor John Tory said Crime Stoppers plays an integral part in keeping the city safe.
“Organizations like this, that engage people in community safety and solving crimes, are very important to the overall fabric and integrity of the community and also to the relationship of the police and the community,” he said. “But Crime Stoppers only works if people pick up the phone or use email to communicate. It is also one of those things that people can do anonymously.”
Last year, TCS partnered with the Divisional Support Unit to distribute Crime Stoppers window signs. Toronto Community Housing put TCS phone-number decals on their marked fleet vehicles.
The TCS was recognized provincially by the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers for Best Special Project in regards to an educational symposium and, at the International Crime Stoppers annual conference in Panama, for Best Crime of the Week, and Best Radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) in a partnership with CHIN.
“When you look at Toronto Police and talk about the modernization of where we are needed the most, and strengthening partnerships to enhance community safety in dealing with a large number of urban needs of a city like Toronto, we know our greatest strength and success is the partnership piece “said Chief Mark Saunders. “If you don’t have that, it compromises community safety.”
The TCS focus in 2018 is on human trafficking.
Former federal Minister Peter MacKay, an advocate against human trafficking, praised TCS for engaging the public and involving them in the collective responsibility to raise awareness about law enforcement, protecting people and embracing victims.
“Some of the horrific participants who prey on young children have to be called out,” he said. “It requires legislative changes, resources and citizen engagement. Having more people aware of this issue is what will lead to more arrests, protection and a safer city.”
Since its inception in 1984, the TCS program has received over 146,869 tips, resulting in over 11,000 arrests, 37,719 charges laid, over $64,000.000 of property recovered and $324,000,000 in illegal narcotics seized.
Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Canadian-born Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.
He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets, and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.
Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.
Toronto, which implemented the initiative in 1984, has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.