AROUND THE NEK- Residents of the Northeast Kingdom do their part to help keep their home safe by calling Crime Stoppers in St. Johnsbury, an anonymous tip line for local crime.
According to Crime Stoppers USA, “Crime Stoppers is based on the principal that someone other than the criminal has information that can solve a crime and was created to combat the three major problems faced by law enforcement in generating that information: Fear of reprisal, an attitude of apathy, reluctance to get involved.” Here in the Northeast Kingdom, the anonymous tip line plays an even bigger role.
“Obviously we’re a relatively small agency, we have officers, we’re staffed 24/7 here in St. Johnsbury Village. Having said that, we obviously can’t be everywhere at the same time,” said Sergeant Lester Cleary. “Just because we didn’t catch the person or the suspects in the process of committing the crime… doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t.”
Sgt. Cleary has worked at the police department for 10 years now and is just one of the people who might pick up the phone when you call Northeast Kingdom Crime Stoppers.
“When somebody calls it’s either answered by a law enforcement office or by dispatch,” Cleary said. The person can choose to stay anonymous or not to share information about a crime that has occurred. Cleary explained that the caller will be asked about 25 to 30 questions about the incident, their answers are recorded on a form and given to the appropriate agency.
There is only one way of Crime Stoppers to recognize you. The organization says, “Once you give us information, you will be assigned a code number, which is the only method Crimestoppers has of identifying you. You must remember this number, and provide it to a Crimestoppers operator when you call back to check on the status of the information you have given.” Even at that, you need to call them because they don’t even ask for a phone number.
The St. Johnsbury Police Department usually uses the tip line in accordance with social media and it’s been working for them. “We’ve had success with solving crimes with tips from Crime Stoppers,” Cleary said. “Typically when we have burglaries and things like that, we started utilizing social media…provide stills of the individual and ask for the public’s assistance. A lot of time they’ll look at it and say ‘oh that’s so and so and I know because of these reasons’.”
NEK Crime Stoppers can be reached at (802) 748-2222 and Cleary encourages anyone with information, even if they don’t think it’s much, to call anyway.
“Small pieces of information that come together and usually help build a clearer picture like building a puzzle—the more pieces you put together, the clearer the picture becomes,” he said.