Chesterfield to pay for tips in crime fight
Tuesday, February 14, 1984
By: Paula C. Squires
Chesterfield will begin a new crime-fighting program March 28 that will reward tipsters as much as $1,000 if they call in with information that leads to an arrest.
The program, to be known as Chesterfield County Crime Solvers, will function independently of an effort be the Retail Merchants Association of Greater Richmond to organize an identical crime-solving program for the Richmond metropolitan area.
Earlier this month, President Jeff Smith of the merchants’ group appealed to law enforcement officers from Richmond and the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover to support a regional program that also would involve monetary rewards for information phone in anonymously by the public.
Sgt. J.P. Bourque, coordinator for Chesterfield’s program, said the county plans to cooperate with the regional effort by sharing information. However, county police think Chesterfield would be better served with its own program because of the county’s rapid growth and the large geographic area it will serve.
Bill Barker, director of member affairs for the merchants’ association, said the regional effort will continue without Chesterfield and that the start-up date for what will be known as the Metropolitan Richmond Crime Stoppers program is still April 1.
“Our original hope was that it would be one regional program. But we wish them well in doing it this way. We’re looking forward to working with them,” Barker said.
Each program will be run by a board of directors that will work with the police, the community and the news media in publicizing a “crime of the week.” The boards will be responsible for raising funds for rewards and for paying rewards to people who call in with information that enables police to solve a crime.
A 24-hour telephone hot line will be the backbone of both programs with callers assigned a confidential number to protect anonymity.
Asked if the presence of two programs would be confusing, Barker said, “Obviously there’ll be two numbers to call. How can you anticipate a question like that?”
Chesterfield starting (sp) working on its program last summer before the association had made known its intent to organize a regional one. Bourque said, “We’re the 10th fasting (sp) growing county in the nation and we have to be progressive in the police department to keep pace,” he said (sp).
According to Bourque, the idea for the program came from Chesterfield Police Chief Joseph E. Pittman, Jr. who talked with police chiefs in communities around the state where crime-solver programs were already in place. “Its effectiveness has been proven,” Pittman said.
Bourque quoted statistics from a program in Virginia Beach that resulted in 318 arrests from May 1982 through December 1983. The arrests brought 315 convictions and the recovery of stolen property and drugs valued at $262,064, according to Bourque’s figures. A total of $16,235 was spent on rewards.
The types of crimes solved included two murders, 22 rapes and/or sexual assaults, 104 grand larcenies and 116 cases involving fraud, embezzlement or forgery.
Chesterfield has assigned two policemen to the program full time. The Fraternal Order of Police Associate Lodge and the county’s police officers have pledged seed money to get the program off the ground.
The amount won’t be disclosed until next Tuesday when Pittman and Bourque will hold a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Central Library on Lori Road. Members of the non-profit board of directors will also be announced at that time.
WXEX television, Channel 8, has agreed to cooperate with Chesterfield by airing information about the “crime of the week” on a weekly basis during its 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.
Although details are being worked out, information about the crime on the air will probably be given by someone from Chesterfield’s Police Department as opposed to station personnel, said Jim Abbot, Channel 8’s news director.