Group Hangs Up Tips Line

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November 1, 2010; Source: Columbus Dispatch | If you live in Columbus, Ohio, who are you going to call if you suspect someone is dealing drugs? Don’t bother dialing the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit that used to promise payments of up to $2,000 for tips that led to arrests. For at least the next six months, the group is shutting down its narcotics tip line.

Already inundated with leads it can’t keep up with, the police department isn’t following up on tips passed along from Crime Stoppers. No actions on those tips mean tipsters don’t stand a chance of getting paid. “We look at the tipsters as our customers,” said Kevin Miles, the group’s president. “We have to be able to respond back to them when they want to know the why and when.” The fact the police aren’t able to act on these tips, Miles adds, makes the group’s “customers upset.”

The police department, too, is breathing a sigh of relief that Crime Stoppers won’t be sending any more tips its way. Spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner says the police department is “inundated with so many tips that we can only work those that show some promise. Taking one of those avenues away is not going to hinder us.” Leads from street officers, calls made directly to its own narcotics tips lines or a 311 number provide the department with “plenty of other tips to work,” Weiner adds.—Bruce Trachtenberg