Crime Stoppers of Great Bend and Barton County recently revamped its program with a new call center and expanded services, Crime Stoppers past president and board member Jere Buehler said.
The telephone number hasn’t changed. People can still call 620-792-1300 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to leave an anonymous tip about crime. And for long-distance calls from outside of Great Bend, the toll-free number is still 1-888-305-1300. The purpose of Crime Stoppers hasn’t changed, either. Callers with information about any crime can leave anonymous tips that will be passed on to law enforcement. If a tip leads to an arrest or the recovery of stolen property, the caller may be eligible for a reward.
What has changed is where the calls are routed. Previously, they went to a line at the Great Bend Police Department. It was a confidential and secure line that had no caller ID or recording capabilities to ensure the caller remained anonymous, but sponsors realized a third-party system would be even better. Now the local organization has contracted with Crime Scene Information (CSI), a separate call service specifically designed for Crime Stoppers Programs. The calls are answered in Texas by a call center designed to assist Crime Stoppers programs. This completely removes the call from the local area, again, protecting the identity of the caller, said Stan Behrends, president of the local Crime Stoppers board.
“It’s really an asset to law enforcement in Barton County,” Great Bend Police Chief David Bailey said. “Calls are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“CSI began receiving Crime Stoppers of Great Bend and Barton County calls on Friday, October 11,” Buehler said. “This service expands the availability of the Crime Stoppers Tip Line and provides an extra level of confidentiality to protect the identity of Crime Stoppers callers.”
Behrends said another enhancement to the program is that if the caller has information about a crime that is in progress or the whereabouts of a person that has an outstanding warrant or warrants, CSI will contact Barton County Communications (local 911) to pass the information along to the appropriate law enforcement officials without delay, but the caller’s identity will not available to CSI or local 911.
Buehler added that there was a service interruption from October 9-11 during the transition. The outage was due to technical difficulties during the phone company’s process of routing the local number to the call service in Texas. “Those issues were resolved Friday afternoon (Oct. 11), but some callers might have received a busy signal when calling Crime Stoppers on those days. Those callers are encouraged to call again with their information.”
“This is one of the biggest innovations and positive services to residents of this area since Crime Stoppers was formed in Great Bend and Barton County in 1984,” said Mick Lang, vice president of the Crime Stoppers board. “This service will allow callers to report criminal activity, information about a crime or the whereabouts of a person with an outstanding warrant 24/7-365 days a year, remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward.”
As always, the motto at Crime Stoppers is, “we don’t want your name just your information.”