Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Charlie Phillips credits use of technology and residents' attitudes with helping the metro's Crime Stoppers program win recognition as best in the country. But longtime board members say while those things help, Phillips is just being modest.
Sgt. Charlie Phillips is in the Crime Stoppers office of the Oklahoma City Police Department in Oklahoma City, OK, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. Phillips has been instrumental in leading OKC's program to be named the best in the country. By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
There are three ways to submit a tip to Oklahoma City Crime Stoppers:
- Phone: 235-7300
- Online: www.okccrimetips.com
- Text message: (405) 415-5666
Tipsters may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
Oklahoma City Crime Stoppers
- 6,521: Tips this year in Oklahoma City up to Sept. 1
- 446: Arrests from tips made this year up to Sept. 1
- $1,103,875: Value of property recovered this year up to Sept. 1
- $1,214,785: Value of drugs seized this year up to Sept. 1
- 714: Arrests from tips from July 1, 2009, to July 1, 2010, in Oklahoma City
- $34,156,928: Non-inflation-adjusted estimated worth of property recovered and drugs seized thanks to OKC Crime Stoppers tips from 1976 to Sept. 1
Sources: Crime Stoppers International; Oklahoma City Crime Stoppers
"I think Charlie Phillips has done more for the program than anyone," said Lee Gilbreath, who has been a Crime Stoppers board member since 1976 when Oklahoma City became the second city to adopt the program for citizens to call in anonymous tips.
Crime Stoppers International recently released statistics showing Oklahoma City's program is the best in the U.S., and Gilbreath and board President Emeritus Don Bobzien point to Phillips' dedication. Phillips is the city police department's full-time Crime Stoppers coordinator and president of the statewide chapter.
In the largest category of Crime Stoppers groups, Oklahoma City finished with about 51 percent more arrests due to Crime Stoppers tips from July 1, 2009, to July 1, 2010, than Cincinnati, the next-closest city. Oklahoma City finished with 280 percent more arrests than the fifth-place city, Los Angeles. The numbers reflect total arrests and are not adjusted by population.
Phillips said Crime Stoppers did most of its work on paper when he took over the coordinator job five years ago.
He has since converted the process to be mostly digital and added text message and online methods to collect tips, and he does preliminary investigative work before forwarding information to officers in the field.
The result has been a 600 percent jump in solved cases due to tips.
"We're just giving people more ways, making it as easy as possible and as comfortable as possible, for them to communicate with us," Phillips said.
Only about half of tipsters in Oklahoma City call Crime Stoppers in an effort to collect reward money, Phillips said. He added that he doesn't care what motivates someone to submit a tip, but said he thinks many of those calling simply out of the desire to help is evidence of strong moral constitutions among area residents.
Phillips said that's what motivates him to keep working hard to work tips and solve cases.
"You know that even if you've pulled a small-time neighborhood drug dealer out of that neighborhood, thinking about the impact that has on the people of that neighborhood, their quality of life, their safety, you can't put a price on something like that," he said.
Bobzien said Phillips' efforts have produced so many arrest-making tips that it puts pressure on fundraisers to keep up. The board approves rewards for selected tips each month that result in arrests, but Crime Stoppers rely solely on private donations. Board members are exploring more creative options to help raise reward money, including the possibility of using a small percentage of money seized in Crime Stoppers-aided investigations.
The Crime Stoppers board approved $34,500 in rewards in the first eight months of this year and $708,800 since the program's inception.