You hear NewsChannel 11 mention it every week. Police need your help solving a crime and they are encouraging you to call Crime Line. But exactly how does the hotline put your information to use to get criminals off the street?
27 years ago Crime Line began when the Lubbock Avalanche Journal teamed up with the late Mayor Durke West to help bring criminals to justice. Today, the hotline is a valuable tool police rely upon. Last year alone tips from callers led to 53 arrests.
"Anything having to do with law enforcement basically and they're able to call in anonymously and leave this information," says Detective Roy Bassett, speaking about one of Lubbock PD's most powerful tools for the past 30 years, Crime Line: an anonymous phone line that takes tips from the public.
"There's going to be many times when someone knows information about a crime or possibly was at the scene of a crime and they fear retaliation if it's known they called in about the crime," says Mary Trent, the face behind the line. Mary takes up to 40 calls a day. "My role is I try to gather as much information from a caller as I possibly can and then I pass that information on to the detective that's assigned to that case," she explains.
Mary hears everything from clues leading to hidden murder weapons to ex-girlfriends turning in someone wanted by the law. "If they're calling on a fugitive, I'll ask them what the person's name is and their date of birth," says Mary.
She says the key to Crime Line's success is the anonymous factor. "We do not have caller ID, so there is no way for us to know who's calling," explains Mary.
For more than three decades Crime Line has represented justice for almost 3,700 Lubbock families. That's 3,700 cases solved from Crime Line tips. "It's...I can't even put it into words. There's not a second in the day that goes by that I don't think about him," says Robert, Russell Baldree's brother.
Recently, it was a tip from Crime Line that helped police solve a 6-month-old murder mystery. Russell Baldree was shot off his motorcycle back in August of 2004. The missing clues lead police to two men now charged with his murder.
Crime Line not only helps put criminals behind bars, tips from callers have helped obtain more than $2.5 million in stolen property. Things such as televisions, computers and guns: recovered with your help.
No matter how small the bit of information may seem, Mary says it could be the missing piece of the puzzle. "Anything that anyone sees no matter how unimportant they think it is, it can be very important to us and I do encourage people to call Crime Line," urges Mary.
Many times judges will give criminals the option to donate money to the Crime Line fund to shorten their sentence. Crime Line has paid out almost $800,000 in rewards, all done anonymously.
The number for Crime Line is (806) 741-1000.
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