The organization was birthed in New Mexico after the death of 19-year-old Michael Carmen. He was a college student in Albuquerque; during the summer, he worked at the city's Horn Oil gas station to help pay for his tuition at the University of New Mexico. On July 18, 1976, Carmen took an extra shift to give a co-worker the night off. The goodwill gesture would cost the groom-to-be his life, two weeks before his wedding.
While investigating Carmen’s homicide, Greg MacAleese, then a member of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), spearheaded the launch of Crime Stoppers. It was partially out of frustration from the lack of leads the APD received for Carmen’s death. Subsequent to the organization’s launch, Carmen’s murder was solved. And places all across the globe began to adopt their own divisions of Crime Stoppers.
Nearly 40 years after the first-ever Crime Stoppers was introduced, the organization has divisions all over the U.S., as well as internationally, in countries as diverse as Barbados, Canada, and South Africa. Crime Stoppers claims it has helped recover more than $10 billion in drugs and stolen property and helped instigate more than one million felony arrests. According to Crime Stoppers International, this equates to solving a crime every 14 minutes somewhere in the world.
Memphis is among the places that have its own division of the organization. Crime Stoppers of Memphis & Shelby County was launched in 1981. Since then, it’s been responsible for helping local law enforcement solve hundreds of crimes annually.
This year so far, Crime Stoppers of Memphis & Shelby County has helped the Memphis Police Department make 252 felony arrests, including homicides, robberies, burglaries, and possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute.
In Shelby County, from January through November 2013, Crime Stoppers tips led to the seizure and recovery of more than $15,000 in stolen goods and led to the identification and arrest of 100 felony suspects. Another 150-plus fugitives — those wanted by law enforcement but fleeing custody — were apprehended by the MPD thanks to Crime Stoppers tips.
Click here to check out my cover story for the Memphis Flyer on the organization.