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."
"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."
"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.