Thinking outside the box to solve a crime through the use of new and creative partnerships.
When a young college student, Michael Carmen, was shot to death during a robbery at a gas station in Albuquerque, New Mexico in July 1976, Detective Greg MacAleese had no idea who was responsible for the killing.
No witnesses came forward and it appeared that the senseless and brutal shotgun slaying would remain a mystery.
MacAleese conceived the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the homicide, guaranteed anonymity for anyone who was willing to call him with information and put up a reward from his own pocket to encourage someone to provide a lead that would help identify those responsible for the murder of Carmen.
At that time Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the country and people were afraid to help the police.
Nevertheless, MacAleese’ plan to identify those responsible for killing Carmen worked. Within a few hours after the recreation of the murder was broadcasted on television station KOAT, he received a phone call. The video image had triggered the memory of a person who heard a loud bang in the vicinity of the gas bar and then saw a car driving off. The caller told MacAleese the vehicle belonged to a resident in a nearby apartment complex.
MacAleese received other calls following the re-enactment, including one that allowed police to solve the sexual assault of a young woman. Realizing that this type of program might be useful in fighting crime, MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department to allow a group of citizens to establish the first Crime Stoppers program.
For his efforts, Detective MacAleese was named one of the people in the 1970's who changed the face of the United States and was also named the country's Police officer of the Year. It is also interesting to note that since adopting Crime Stoppers, Albuquerque's crime rate has dropped significantly and no longer is ranked in the list of 20 cities with the highest per capita crime rate.
History of Windsor & Essex County
Early in 1985, Windsor Police Service Detective, Bill Stephens, was asked to study the Crime Stoppers program and to take the initial steps required to establish one in Windsor and Essex County.
This initiative was done at the request of the Windsor and District Chamber of Commerce, which was the driving force behind the establishment of Crime Stoppers in this area. A civilian Board of Directors was formed with its support and expertise.
After months of planning, Windsor & Essex County Crime Stoppers, Inc. started operating on April 15, 1985 with Detective Bill Stephens as its first Coordinator and Bob Pedler as its first Chairperson. It had an operating fund of $2,500, money which had been donated by the Windsor & District Labour Council, the Kinsmen Club of Windsor and the Windsor Police Association.
Since its inception, Windsor & Essex County Crime Stoppers, Inc. has been awarded the Marla Moon Award of Excellence eight times for the best Crime Stoppers program in Ontario. The program has also won several productivity awards, media awards and social media awards during this time. In addition, the program has received several awards from the Ontario Crime Control Commission.