The New Brunswick legislature has declared January Crime Stoppers month in order to support awareness and encourage volunteers to join the program. The program won four awards in 2015 for best public service announcement, best coordinator of the year and two for productivity increases.
Sgt. Tammy Ward is NB Crime Stoppers Provincial Police Director and an officer with the RCMP. She said the New Brunswick chapter program has consistently won awards since its founding in 1985.
“Last year we were also recognized with our media,” said Ward. “We won the media award for one of the [public service announcements] we had done with Rogers Television and jointly with the New Brunswick Federation of ATVs.”
She said looking forward NB Crime Stoppers isn’t looking to expand the existing 20 chapters, instead, Ward would like to focus on establishing better relations with their partners. She hopes to do this by using public service announcements to reach out to the public.
“Public service announcements in terms of Ponzi-schemes and senior frauds,” said Ward. “We just did a release last week for the release and protection of our salmon.”
Ward credits the program’s success to its design. Callers are able to make anonymous tips about suspected crimes within their communities without fear of retribution. The information is then passed on to the proper agency, area and jurisdiction.
NB Crime Stoppers does not only work with local police forces and the RCMP but with other agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and SPCA. They’re also able to follow up with the agencies to ensure all tips are investigated.
“We get a lot of phone from people that have children who just want to make sure their kids are safe or just improve their communities,” said Ward.
Some members of the community aren’t so certain of the Crime Stoppers program’s relevance in the digital age.
Ryan Folkes, a Fredericton resident, said that community groups on social media webpages, such as those on Facebook or Twitter, allow residents to share tips amongst themselves. Though other community members express concern this could lead to vigilantism and personal danger for those involved.
Despite Crime Stoppers being a donation and volunteer based organization, he feels that resources might be better spent elsewhere. He said the program is just not as prominent as it once was.
“I remember, especially back in the early ‘90s days, you could go to the arcade and you’d see signs all over the place,” said Folkes. “TV advertisements were huge for Crime Stoppers. But now a days, not so much. Especially with digital cable.”
Folkes said his own experience with Crime Stoppers in the past had been less than satisfactory. A few years ago, his ATV was stolen from his personal residence. It was not insured for fire and theft so Folkes contacted all the services he could to have it returned.
He filed a police report but never heard back. A friend referred him to Crime Stoppers and when he called, he said they provided little help.
“They basically told me ‘we can’t do anything, call the cops’,” said Folkes. “So in my mind, what exactly [does Crime Stoppers] do? It’s in the name ‘Crime Stoppers’ you would think they’d stop crimes.”
Though Folkes may have not had the best experience with the program, their reports from 2015 indicate they have helped solve 100 cases and recovered over $54 thousand in property.
Statistics Canada reports also show crimes have steadily decreased since the early 1990s. The severity of crimes committed has also declined and New Brunswick boasts some of the country’s lowest numbers on the Crime Severity Index. The province also had the second lowest rate on robberies.