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#417351 - 09/29/11 09:38 AM Crime Stoppers in Belize
Marty Offline

Chris Garcia

Belize is one of thirty-seven countries that have a Crimestoppers hotline to receive tips on criminal activity. The program started in 2004 and there have always been lingering concerns about who answers the calls and whether the promise of confidentiality can be trusted. To address that, Crimestoppers Belize has invited the detectives who take the calls in Miami Dade County, to do an awareness campaign in the Jewel. Today Chris Garcia, the Chief Operating Officer of Crimestoppers Belize explained the details of the visit and commented on whether the impending mandatory registration of cell phones will affect the confidential aspect of the program.

Chris Garcia, C.O.O., Crimestoppers Belize

“We are embarking on a public awareness session for this week and this visit was made possible through a CARSI grant we received through the US Embassy and we’re very happy for that because it was always our dream to bring the detectives who answer the calls for us so that our Belizean public can see that we are not telling a fib when we say that our calls are answered overseas and that ourselves, our local officers whether it’s Customs, Police Immigration, has nothing to do with answering their calls. It’s completely anonymous.”

Delahnie Bain

“The basis of the whole Crimestoppers thing is confidentiality. But with the recent introduction of mandatory registration of cell phones, there may be some concerns about that. Will this registration process affect the confidentiality of the Crimestoppers hotline?”

Chris Garcia

Alex MacDonald

“Absolutely not; from the inception of the program it was designed to accommodate all sorts of phones whether prepaid or postpaid. And people have been calling, I would assume, from all the different category of phones. I have a postpaid phone at home and I do need to keep in contact with the Miami Dade call center and the number has never shown up on my phone bill. so I know that it’s not being recorded, it’s not shown—somebody can take your bill and it won’t show that you called the Crimestoppers number so that registration will not affect it.”

Alex MacDonald, Regional Chairman/Global V.P., Crimestoppers International

“We’ve met with major parts of the community, the Board of Directors of Crimestoppers Belize, the Commissioner and his senior command, Customs and their senior command and our basic goal here is to show the community that your Crimestoppers program works in this community where sometimes you can’t always talk to the police. You have an opportunity now to pick up the telephone or send electronic email to Crimestoppers and we can respond by sending it to the appropriate authorities.”

Channel 5

#417352 - 09/29/11 09:39 AM Re: Crime Stoppers in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Crime Stoppers Miami Detectives explain how service remains anonymous

Aida Fina-Milian

The detectives Aida Fina-Milian and Barbara Chavez gave further details on how the tipsters remain anonymous while Alex MacDonald, the Global Vice President of Crimestoppers International told us that the Miami team is responsible for calls from Belize and eight other countries.

Aida Fina-Milian, Detective, Miami Dade Crimestoppers

“When that tip line is called from Belize, that call is routed to Miami Dade County, which is where Barbara and I work in the office with a few others. We do take the tips personally; there is no caller ID, there is no recording of the conversations, there is not any information that can be linked to the tipster. Basically, we just want information; we don’t want your name or number or who you are or where you are. We just want the information that may help close the case.”

Barbara Chavez

Barbara Chavez, Detective, Miami Dade Crimestoppers

“There is an incentive for providing information; not only does it clean up the community and help us to make these arrests on these criminals, but the community is also rewarded in the form of cash. They are rewarded once an arrest is made. They don’t have to wait for a conviction, once an arrest is made and the individual is charged, they are eligible for a cash reward.”

Alex MacDonald

Alex MacDonald

“Miami Dade county police department; they answer nine of our national countries telephones. From Bermuda, where I’m from, Bahamas, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Cayman and they assist us free of charge to get rid of the idea that when people call Crimestoppers a local person answers. Small communities like ours, it’s important that people are aware that Crimestoppers do not answer the call in the local community; we answer calls in Miami Dade County. That has helped us in a way to assure the public that their calls can be completely anonymous.”

According to the Crimestoppers International detectives, callers are only identified by a number, which they can use to follow up on the progress of an investigation.

Channel 5

#417517 - 10/01/11 08:49 AM Re: Crime Stoppers in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Crimestoppers: Confidence Building In Belize

Crime Stoppers International has a great track record internationally, helping to make over one million arrests and has also helped at recovering over 3 billion dollars in stolen property.

But, in Belize, it hasn't caught on that well: fear and aversion to the culture of so called snitching has played a major role in the public's reluctance to utilize the 800 number.

But since the hotline was introduced almost six years ago by Rotary Belize, there's been some noticeable increase in calls made. We found out more today form Local Coordinator Cris Garcia:..

Cris Garcia, Crimestoppers Belize
"We have seen increase in confidence in the amount of calls and in the amount successes since from then until now. However, we believe that we can do much better and hence we brought in our partners that partner with us, to make it possible so that the Belizean public can see them, hear them and gain confidence by knowing that we do not answer the calls here in Belize."

Alex MacDonald, Regional Chairperson
"Crimestoppes is growing fast every year in all corners of the world; it's in 32 countries around the world. People are beginning to understand how it works and when they understand how it works they start using the system. All Crimestoppers is a number. Here in Belize it's 0800-922-8477-TIPS, that number is all that the civilian board promote from the information they get from the community that gets forward to the law enforcement community and then it's then dealt with and then reported back to the civilian community. A guarantee the information will be dealt with. Crimestoppers give you the opportunity to make a call where no one knows who makes that call and the meticular in smaller communities were people know everybody and that's the advantage we also of having Miami-Dade county and so the telephone calls for Belizeans and 9 other smaller regions with in the Caribbean."

To try and dispel that myth, two seasoned Miami Dade detectives assigned to the Crimestoppers have been in the country meeting with law enforcement officials and the media to bring a face to the organization. Detectives, Aida Fina-Milian and Barbara Chavez say all calls to the 0-800-922-TIPS hotline are remain completely anonymous.

Det. Barbara Chavez, Miami-Dade, Crimestoppers
"All we ask for is the information regarding the crime that they are reporting, whether it's a murder or child abuse or robbery, any type of crime, narcotics or firearm anything that they know they would report it to us and that is the only information that we ask. We would never ask for the person's name or phone number, we don't have caller ID, and we do not trace the call. We do not want their information, we want it to be 100 percent anonymous so once they call us and they provide that information they are issued a confidential tip number and that is the number that they use if they need to call our office back to request a status or to add additional information that will assist the investigators in closing their case."

Jim McFadzean
"How does one determine whether to call 911 or crimestoppers."

Det. Aida Fina-Miliam, Miami-Dade, Crimestoppers
"Well if there is any type of emergency that is a life threatening situation, anything that needs immediate response, remember that we are not local, we do not dispatch from our office, we are in Miami, so if there is anything that needs immediate attention from the police you need an officer to respond instantly, then that call would should be made to your local 911. If it's something about a case that has happened that the police are looking for information, or something that the police may not know is going on, narcotics activates or an unreported crime, then that information can be reported to crimestoppers. That's really what the program is about."

Jim McFadzean
"Barbara, can you tell us about the reward programs that comes with providing an anonymous tip. Should that be the sole reason why one calls Crimestoppers?"

Det. Barbara Chavez, Miami-Dade, Crimestoppers
"Well I believe that the sole reason should be, to make you own community safe, I believe that first and foremost, that's what should be their first concern. A reward is just an incentive, it's just our way of saying thak you for your information that lead to the arrest. Let me just add a little something here, the reward is paid upon arrest, the person does not have to be convicted they don't have to wait for a conviction; as long as the individual that they call on is arrested and charged they are eligible for the reward."

An important note is that the detectives at the Crimes Stoppers' Call centers are all bi-lingual.

Channel 7


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