Former Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries joined the Greater Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers team.
With decades of law enforcement experience, Fries told WANE 15 News he accepted the position with the goal of making it more efficient and to generate more tips.
“As the sheriff, I always tried to remind people, the citizens, you have a job to do,” Fries said. “We need your help and you have information we need to get to the police so they can solve these crimes. And that’s what pushes me. I want to make this a better place. Leave it better than it was when you found it.”
Formed in the 1980’s Crime Stoppers has been operating under the tagline ‘You tell, we wont.’ While the slogan has stuck around, the way tips have been coming in has been changing.
“We take tips on just about everything, as far as homicides, rape, armed robberies, bank robberies, and murder, of course.” Former officer Greg Lewis explained. Lewis has been taking the tips and turning them over to area law enforcement agencies for 17 years.
“About 50% of the information that comes into [our office] is right on the money,” Lewis added.
Since the 1980’s, nearly 40,000 tips have been documented. About 1,000 were reported last year. 11,500 arrests have been made as a result of those tips, 200 of which happened in 2018.
More than $500,000 has been handed out in reward money. All of that cash has been donated by people hoping to make the area more safe.
Doubling the team, Fries and Lewis hope to generate more tips, increasing social media interactions and being reachable 24/7.
“If a tip comes in at 9:30 at night, I can get the information and get it to whatever agency needs it right then and there,” Fries said. “Because as Greg says, this information is very time sensitive.”
In the long-term, Fries hopes the tips will not just be paid for by donations. He told WANE 15 News he planned to push for legislation making those who get locked up responsible for paying the tipsters who put them there.