Thousands awarded annually for anonymous tips by Crime Stoppers
WICHITA, Kansas – Every year, thousands of dollars are paid as rewards by the crime stoppers to individuals who give information of offenders that leads to the arrests and conviction of crimes.
In 2 recent cases, the tipsters were not given their reward and the reason is surprising that they were never identified and were not summoned to testify in court.
The executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission, who administers the Crime Stoppers program, Gordon Bassham, said, “If we pay a reward to people who have provided information to Crime Stoppers and then become witnesses in the case, and testify in court, one could interpret that as Crime Stoppers paying for their tip, and we can’t have that”.
In 2007, Bassham took over the commission and there have been 2 cases in which the tipster identified themselves in some way and lost the rights to a reward.
The 1st case was last July in the vehicular homicide of Lloyd Ferguson, who was struck by a vehicle while he was riding his horse near 21st and Piatt. After a month, when police received an anonymous tip locating the suspect vehicle, the man who called in the tip identified himself to police and lost his tip ID number.
Bassham said, “They’re told to safeguard that, to not let anybody know what that tip number is. So if you don’t have your tip number, you can’t collect the reward from Crime Stoppers”.
The other case was in last December and it involved a tipster in the Danielle Zimmerman case, robbed as she lay dying at a Taco Bell drive-thru in south Wichita. The woman who called in the anonymous tip that identified the suspects in the case also identified herself to Wichita police investigators.
Bassham said, “Because of that, there’s a high probability she will be called as a witness in the case. Because of that, we can’t pay her, because if we did, it would create the appearance that we paid for her testimony”. According to him, anonymity is the best way to safeguard tipsters in these cases. He added, “Please call Crime Stoppers if you have information about a crime or criminal. But also, please stay anonymous because without that anonymity, we can’t honor you by paying you a reward for your tip”.
Reward money is paid in cash at a local bank so that there is no paper trail connecting the program to the tipster and it is tax-free.
News Source: www.KSN.com