From Our President,
K. Scott Abrams, CPA, FHFMA
Think back over the last several months and years … these are challenging times indeed! The recent federal fiscal cliff and global economic issues, continuing global unrest in the Mideast and North and South Korea, and certainly the significant political divide in our own state during the governor recall election. Given our insatiable need to know and the ability of news media to provide instantaneous access to this type of information through television, newspapers and radio, which now includes social media outlets, individuals have a multitude of access points in receiving information on everything affecting their daily lives. This is also the case when media attention is focused on Crime Stoppers as well.
There were recent news reports out of Los Angeles and the state of Texas regarding Crime Stoppers, and unfortunately not very complimentary reports. For example, the high-profile case of the former police officer on a shooting rampage in the Los Angeles area, then hiding out in the mountains, brought in significant reward fund money to be paid for the capture of this individual. These rewards were not through the Crime Stoppers reward fund, but through other various entities. When the local media published that a reward fund was being established, unfortunately it referenced the Crime Stoppers program. Subsequent to the conclusion of this case, several of the donors contributing to the reward fund decided to pull out citing conflicts for various reasons. This reflected poorly on the Los Angeles Crime Stoppers program through no fault of its own. However, this impacts the image and integrity of Crime Stoppers programs throughout the United States because of the high media attention placed on this case.
In some cases, perception is reality. In this case, the perception was that Crime Stoppers offers extremely large rewards for certain high profile cases. The reality is that the Los Angeles Crime Stoppers was obligated to pay the $1000 maximum reward, but the news media in various forms suggested different information.
Remember, always protect the image and integrity of your Crime Stoppers program. It is highly improbable to control what the media reports and publishes, however, it is imperative that each Crime Stoppers program relate, interact and establish ongoing relationships with their local media on a regular basis. Keep reminding them about the principles of Crime Stoppers and our need to maintain the anonymity of those providing information to Crime Stoppers. This won't solve every issue on how news media reports information about Crime Stoppers, but it may assist in focusing the perception closer to reality.