The Silent Witness Crime Stoppers program combines the efforts of a private organization operated by volunteers with city and county law enforcement agencies to solve crimes in Cheyenne.
The program began in mid-December 1981 after a police staff officer learned about the Crime Stoppers program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He suggested a Crime Stoppers program be undertaken in Cheyenne. The program pays rewards to citizens who provide information to law enforcement which helps solve crimes and the citizens” names remain anonymous. The chief of police concurred that the program was an innovative approach to involving the news media, law enforcement and the community in a partnership to solve crime. The idea was taken to the mayor of Cheyenne who gave it his blessing and offered the services of his office to start the program.
A prominent local businessman, who also is a former mayor and state legislator, and the operator of a local radio station, who has a long term interest in law enforcement, agreed to set up the program. They found other volunteers who became the nucleus of a board of directors for the organization. Preliminary publicity and fund raising was spearheaded by these volunteers. The local program was called Silent Witness of Cheyenne, Inc., and it is affiliated with Crime Stoppers International, a support organization headquartered in Albuquerque.
This first small group of volunteer board members who solicited money to establish a fund for rewards and operating expenses was met with an enthusiastic response from the community. More than 100 businesses, organizations and individuals contributed to the fund. Without these private funds, Silent Witness could not operate since no public monies are provided, although the City of Cheyenne pays for the private telephone line in the Police Department Detective Bureau on which calls with information are taken. Silent Witness Crime Stoppers was incorporated with the original five volunteers as officers.
The board is responsible for fund raising and paying rewards as well as serving as a liaison between law enforcement and the community. When information obtained from a Silent Witness caller leads to recovery of property, seizure of illegal drugs or solution of a crime, the investigating officer or the Silent Witness law enforcement coordinator recommends a reward to be paid to the caller and the board votes on the reward. If the reward is approved, arrangements are made for the caller to receive the cash reward. Board members also make presentations to other organizations about Silent Witness Crime Stoppers in an effort to build interest in the program and encourage contributions.
A vital part of the Silent Witness Crime Stoppers program is the cooperation of the news media. Each week a Crime of the Week is featured in the local newspapers and on the radio and television stations. Often information is received enabling the featured crime to be solved and the effort keeps the program in the public eye.
In 1983, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department was brought into full partnership with the Cheyenne Police Department in sharing coordination of the program between law enforcement and the board of directors.
Silent Witness Crime Stoppers serves the community as a whole by enabling crimes to be solved which might not be without the information provided by citizens to law enforcement agencies.
The community benefits through return of stolen property to its owners as well as by arrest and incarceration of burglars, drug dealers and other criminals. In addition, citizens are encouraged to keep their eyes and ears open for possible illegal activity. The program strives to make citizens aware that they can be directly responsible for dealing with crime.
The Silent Witness Crime Stoppers program is considered to be a deterrent to crime in Cheyenne making the city a better place in which to live through the involvement and cooperation of a broad spectrum of citizens.