CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, citizen-run organization.
Our mission is to help the police capture criminals by offering cash rewards and anonymity to citizens for information about crimes.
We reward callers for crime tips to a 24-hour hotline to the police department. We get tips from all over the city and county — from men, women, and kids of all ages and races.
We pay once a suspect is arrested and charged. Waiting for convictions could delay rewards for months, and we want to reward our informants promptly.
Our board of directors — all unpaid civilian volunteers — sets policies, develops ideas for increasing public awareness, raises funds, plans special events, screens each individual case, sets reward amounts for tipsters, and makes payoffs.
Our tip line, 528-CASH (528-2274), is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
School Truancy Hotline: We monitor the Shelby County Schools’ Hotline for reports of absent and/or truant school-age children. Through a partnership with the Memphis City School System, we report to the Truancy Center all information regarding truant children for investigation by truant officers. This is a non-award function of our office and an effort to be proactive in juvenile crime fighting.
Drug Eviction Program: The Shelby County Attorney General sponsors a program of drug eradication by offering rewards for arrests of anyone involved in drug sales that take place in a residential rental property. When calls of drug sales on rental property are received, that complaint is assigned a number and forwarded to a Shelby County Attorney General investigator. That investigator directs an investigation by uniform patrol officers in that area. If an arrest is made, the reward is paid by the Attorney General’s office, via CrimeStoppers.
Community Services: We gladly attend public assemblies, dinners and other events to make presentations to promote CrimeStoppers and our new Trust Pays program, and to encourage support of law enforcement initiatives.
It all started with a holdup
The birth of CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County, Inc. can be traced back to a gas station armed robbery late one night in 1976 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
That night, two thugs held-up a University of New Mexico student, Michael Carmen, and for no apparent reason fired a shotgun blast from ten feet away. Four hours later Carmen, who was only two weeks away from marrying his high school sweetheart, died without being able to describe his assailants to police.
Weeks later, with the investigation going stale, Albuquerque police detective Greg MacAleese came up with a unique idea. He asked a local TV station to reenact the crime and ask for citizen tips. It worked. Not only did a witness come forward in the murder, but other tips were called in on other crimes. Soon, the Albuquerque Metro CrimeStoppers organization was born.
Now go forward to 1981. Memphis City Council member, Bob James, has been hearing about the remarkable crime fighting successes the city of Albuquerque has been having. More arrests! More cases solved! More felons ending up behind bars! He decides to investigate, and learns that the New Mexico program has evolved into a 24-hour anonymous tip hotline providing cash rewards to citizens providing information leading to arrests.
James returns to Memphis and shares what he has discovered with area mayors, with the police director, Buddy Chapman, the sheriff, and leading businessmen such as P.K. Seidman. Quickly, a team is formed to launch a CrimeStoppers program in our community.
Now, 25 years later, CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County is widely viewed as one of the three most successful citizen-tips crime fighting programs in the U.S., and indeed, in the world. Since its inception, the program has won numerous awards and public accolades, such as first place in Most Cases Cleared at the CrimeStoppers International Conference in Victoria, British Columbia, a couple of years ago.
Why is CrimeStoppers so successful here? The answer, in a word, is community teamwork at its best.
Law enforcement agencies, city and county officials, the news media, the business community, and plain citizens who want to keep their neighborhoods and communities safe — all have worked together to keep the program strong and put the criminals behind bars.
Today CrimeStoppers is led by Buddy Chapman. Buddy was the Memphis police director back in 1981 when Bob James called that first meeting.
“I believed wholeheartedly in the CrimeStoppers idea then and I firmly believe in it today,” Chapman says. “I know of no program more effective in helping law enforcement fight crime.”
Chapman was the force behind Trust Pays, the project that took CrimeStoppers’ proven formula into the schools and has had a major impact after less than a year.
All of this came as the result of one hold-up.