The Albany Police Department, Capital Region Crime Stoppers and SEFCU have teamed up to launch a program enabling people with tips about crimes to share information with authorities anonymously — with the possibility of a cash reward.
Crime Stoppers has been around since the mid-1970s and has led to multiple arrests nationwide. Now Albany has its own branch.
There have been several shooting incidents over the past year where details and witnesses have been few and far between. Police have had to resort to reaching out to the public via the media, asking that anyone with information contact them. Acting Albany Police Chief Bob Sears: "We really really struggle with trying to get people that will give us that little bit of information that would get us over the hump in a case. Crime Stoppers is a perfect way for us to bridge that gap. We also have a tremendous amount of people that when something significant happens they would like to put up a reward, and it's very difficult for us, from a police department perspective, to kind of administer and manage those reward systems, and this is another way that Crime Stoppers will be able to fill that void where we have people that wanna do something, they feel helpless because they've been victimized or they feel bad because someone in the community's been victimized and they wanna put up a monetary award and this will be another avenue for them to feel that they have a connection to the case."
Officials hope Crime Stoppers will expedite that process by offering a secure, anonymous path for tipsters and up to $1,500.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she doesn't want people to worry about submitting information. "Sometimes they are in a situation where they may not fully understand or they may know people involved, and so having another tool, like, we're always looking for those additional tools that we can have in the toolbox to ensure that we can make our community safe and ensure that our residents feel safe in our community. "
APD spokesman Steve Smith says those who call tips in will receive an identification number. Police will not have any information that could identify or lead back to them. Caller ID and enhanced Caller ID are disabled. "If anybody calls the tip line, it's gonna be answered by the Albany Police Department's Information Coordination Unit. That's a unit within the Detective's Division that is already tasked with gathering intelligence and information. When the phone rings it's gonna show the tip line. It’s gonna show the exact number that you're calling. The phone is designed that way to ensure the anonymity of the caller."
Funding for Albany's Crime Stoppers comes from SEFCU Credit Union and private donors.
There are three ways to submit a tip.