Crimestoppers: Local Agency Sees Drop In Tips

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RIVER VALLEY (KFSM) – 5NEWS has a relationship with local police departments to help catch criminals when the law is broken.

It’s called Crimestoppers, but lately it hasn't been living up to its full potential.

If a viewer recognizes a suspect on 5NEWS or witnesses a crime, he or she should call 78-CRIME (River Valley) or 790-TIPS (Northwest Arkansas) with the information.

Det. Sgt. Dawn Sprayberry at the Fort Smith Police Department takes the calls and keeps people anonymous.

“People that are watching 5NEWS provide us some details,” she said.

The program has been around for more than 20 years, but lately, the phone, which doesn't even have Caller ID, has been quiet.

“The calls that I’ve been receiving lately are not Crimestopper specific," Sprayberry said. "They’ve been general law enforcement response calls, or questions for city service calls, things like that.”

When comparing the piles of reports made through Crimestoppers from the last two years, it is clear 2015 has had the fewest number.

“Unfortunately, we've only had a couple this year,” Sprayberry said.

One case this year solved thanks to Crimestoppers was when police said John Allen Root was stealing things from gym lockers throughout the River Valley.

In Van Buren, Cardio Studio employee Katie Anderson said she's glad someone picked up the phone. He was later arrested, according to the Fort Smith Police Department.

“If they hadn't called, they wouldn't have had it done as fast,” Anderson said.

Sprayberry said no tip is too small.

“It gives us more information than what we might have known before,” she said. “If you witness a crime, give us a call.”

The person providing the tip could earn up to $1,000, if the information leads to an arrest. Because it is a non-profit, Sprayberry said the reward money comes from donations from citizens.

“A lot of times, the callers don’t even want the reward." Sprayberry said. "They strictly want to help.”