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Police seek higher visibility for Crime Stoppers

Police seek higher visibility for Crime Stoppers
Rochester Crime Stoppers intern Joel Harland shares literature with passerby Mandy Schultz, of Plainview, during Rochesterfest last week.

Rochesterfest visitors on their way to grab corn dogs and mini donuts were given something extra last week: Leaflets advertising an anti-crime initiative in Olmsted County.

The leaflets are part of an effort to increase awareness of Crime Stoppers of Rochester and Olmsted County, an initiative that allows citizens to pass tips anonymously to authorities by phone message, text or through www.rochesterolmstedcrimestoppers.org.

Tips can be left about any type of crime, ranging from basic vandalism to long-running investigations, such as the slayings of April Sorensen and Peter Kapitula.

"I think it's progressing well, and we're trying to increase its visibility going forward," said police Lt. Mike Sadauskis.

The website has received 90,000 hits so far, and on average, four or five tips per week come in to Crime Stoppers of Rochester and Olmsted County, which is affiliated with Crime Stoppers of Minnesota.


"I don't know if I can say at this point whether any tips have directly solved a crime," Sadauskis said. "But certainly we've gotten tips that have helped us either confirm what we already knew or re-confirm a direction we were going already."

Crime Stoppers has about 500 organizations in the U.S. and an additional 700 affiliates worldwide. The group started in Albuquerque, N.M., after a detective encouraged the public to get involved in solving a murder in 1976. Crime Stoppers came to Minnesota in 1979, starting in the Twin Cities. It was launched here in October.

In higher-profile crimes in Rochester, police might get five or six tips through Crime Stoppers, Police Chief Roger Peterson said.

In other cases, he added, authorities have learned through Crime Stoppers tips about crimes they didn't know had happened.

"We're actually getting information that we wouldn't have any other way, and that's certainly a good thing," Peterson said.

Crime Stoppers is a great tool for law enforcement, said Sgt. Tom Claymon of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, but he stressed that there is a delay in the information getting to authorities, so it's not the most effective way to report crimes in progress or nuisances such as loud parties.

Anonymity can be maintained by calling 911 and even more so by calling 328-6800 for crimes in progress, he said.

"Quite frankly if they tell the dispatcher that they want to keep this as an anonymous complaint, we're not going to go and hunt these people down and make them be complainants," Claymon said.


In the meantime, authorities are working to get the word out about Crime Stoppers .

"The more people who are aware of it, the more effective it will be," Peterson said.

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