COVID-19 blamed for drop in tips to Crime Stoppers

Watch: COVID-19 blamed for drop in tips to Crime Stoppers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There has been a drop in the number of calls to Crime Stoppers and COVID-19 is being blamed.

Law enforcement is worried that fewer calls will mean fewer criminals are caught.

The anonymous tip line has seen almost 100 fewer calls this year compared to last year.

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It is an even bigger drop compared to 2016 when there were 400 more calls.

The drop comes at a time when MPD needs help to solve crimes, especially murder.

Memphis Crime Stoppers has helped police solve crimes by giving people anonymity when they call in with a tip.

A reward is paid to them when the tip leads to an arrest.

“So, we are very lucky in this community to have a very effective crime stoppers program,” said Bill Gibbons with the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Recent data from the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission shows the number of people calling Crime Stoppers has been in decline since 2016.

The program has received about 100 fewer calls this year, which is a drop of 8 percent compared to 2019.

Gibbons said COVID-19 is partly to blame.

“People are staying at home more,” he said. “They are not getting out as much, interacting with other people, talking with people as much. Therefore, probably not as accessible to as much information.”

Gibbons said those tips are needed, especially by homicide detectives trying to solve 200 murders, 178 of them homicides.

“They need the help of citizens to help solve some of these terrible crimes,” he said.

FOX13 showed the data to Stevie Moore who runs Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives, a community organization that fights crime.

Moore started his own tip line three weeks ago and said he has gotten about 100 calls.

FOX13 asked Moore is his tip line is competing with crime stoppers.

“No! I wish we had a number in every community because communities are comfortable calling someone they know,” said Moore.

Moore said he isn’t sure what’s causing people not to call Crime Stoppers. He said it may be the pandemic or apathy or a reflection of the tension between police and some neighborhoods.

“Law enforcement and the community should work more together,” he said.

Gibbons said even if the pandemic is keeping people apart, someone still has information to help police. All they need to do is call.

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