Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama
Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama is a Birmingham-based affiliate of Crime Stoppers International. The local organization was founded in 1981 to assist investigators by providing an anonymous telephone line for the public to volunteer information about crimes. The Birmingham-based organization covers all of Jefferson County along with Bibb County, Blount County, Cullman County, Shelby County, St Clair County, Walker County, and northern Chilton County.
Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama's offices are located in donated space in the 2121 Building. Most of the reward funds that it distributes, up to $5,000 for a useful tip about a major crime, comes from charitable donations. Local media outlets broadcast special requested for information, and the organization also advertises online and on billboards. The executive director since 2018 is former Homewood Police deputy chief Bob Copus.
Crime Stoppers International was founded in the late 1970s, modeled on a successful partnership between police and a local television station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The group was active in promoting the concept nationwide. Then Birmingham Police Chief Bill Myers sent Doug McBee to the 1981 national conference. Myers incorporated the group as a non-profit in December of that year, with an 11-member board of directors that included Myers, along with banker Bill Voigt and insurance executives Dick Dawson and Kirkwood Balton.
The program was initially sponsored and staffed by the Birmingham Police Department. In 2014 the organization became more independent by using a 24-hour independent out-of-state answering service. Phone tips are taken by a live operator. The service structures tips for delivery to relevant law enforcement agencies through P3 Global Intel's software platform. Crime Stoppers has established safeguards against collecting identifying information from individuals offering information by telephone, text message, email, web form, app or social media.
In 2022 Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama reported taking 5,510 tip calls, and helping to clear 337 cases, though only a fraction of cases cleared can be successfully prosecuted. The service paid out 120 rewards totaling $110,000 during the year.
As of 2022 there were 22 local radio stations that broadcast Crime Stopper Public Service Announcements weekly. The Birmingham News printed a "Crime of the Week" article, and ABC 33/40 produced a "Crime of the Week" re-enactment segment each Wednesday and Thursday.
- Pfuhl, Edwin H. Jr (1992) "Crimestoppers: The legitimation of snitching" Justice Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 505–528
- "Crimestoppers of Metro Alabama names Bob Copus interim executive director." (August 28, 2018) The Homewood Star
- Gann, Heather (January 20, 2023) "What it will take to stop violent crime in Birmingham, from Crime Stoppers director." AL.com