MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After a year of record violence, city leaders are adding more crime fighting initiatives to encourage more people to come forward with information. Even with increased incentives, Crime Stoppers says calls are down.
“I am somewhat concerned our calls have dropped off over the last few months,” Crime Stoppers Executive Director Buddy Chapman said.
The executive director initially thought it was due to COVID-19 and fewer people being out to see what’s going on. But now that things are reopening and the calls are still down, he thinks it’s pointing to a bigger issue of trust.
“Crime is not a police problem, crime is a community problem,” Chapman said. “A community will suffer from crime as much as its willing to do so.”
Memphis is suffering the consequences of crime. Last year the city broke its record for homicides and the number of children shot and killed. Already this year police say there have been 137 homicides with 40-percent of those unsolved.
To encourage more people to share what they know, Crime Stoppers recently doubled its top reward to $2,000. But those efforts to get people to come forward haven’t made much of a difference.
During a typical month, they get 20-30 legitimate tips, Chapman said, but lately those numbers have been down by at least 10 calls.
In fact, they recently had a month where they only received nine or 10 tips.
Local pastors say they’re not surprised calls are down even with the increased reward.
“My grandmother, or $2,000. My children, or $2,000,” said Dr. Reginald S. Boyce of Riverside Missionary Baptist Church. “You have people that are really considering, ‘I would rather let my money fly and keep my children you know, keep my life right.’”
They ask you to think about the family of two-year-old Laylah Washington. She was shot and killed four years ago while sitting in the back of her mother’s car.
Police say her accused killers would still be free had it not been for a Crime Stoppers tip.
“Your voice can save not only the life of a child, or a mother or father, it literally can save a generation,” Chapman said. “Without people calling and without people testifying we will not overcome crime.”
All call are anonymous. The number is (901) 528-CASH.