Honouring Partners in Crime Prevention
Toronto Crime Stoppers recognized the work of its policing and community partners at the annual 25th annual Chief of Police dinner on May 4.
“Given the anonymous nature of Crime Stoppers, crimes that are solved through the assistance of Crime Stoppers often go unrecognized with little or no publicity,” said Constable Sean O’Neill, the Toronto Crime Stoppers Community Engagement & Social Media officer.
“The Toronto Crime Stoppers Board of Directors is fortunate to host a forum such as the Chief of Police Dinner to recognize the hard work and continued efforts of our policing partners, units and officers who utilize the Crime Stoppers platform as a conduit to resolve criminality and address public safety throughout the city’s neighbourhoods.”
The theme of this year’s celebration was ‘Stand Up, Stand Together’.
Last year was record setting for the program.
A total of 16,000 anonymous tips and information from the public led to about 200 arrests.
The Service laid hundreds of related charges and was able to take dozens of illegal firearms off the streets. In addition, over $2 million in illicit drugs and stolen property were seized and Crime Stoppers information provided assistance in multiple homicide investigations.
Chief Myron Demkiw hailed the successes.
“On top of these, Toronto Crime Stoppers continuously work to evolve and has implemented a more proactive program in order to enhance community safety and impact criminality,” he said. “It continues to innovate and to work outside the box to foster strong relationships and connections between itself, police and the communities we serve.”
Demkiw pointed to the Community Reward Program as a perfect example of the innovation.
Instead of offering reward money for tips to individuals, the payouts were replaced with programs that channel the organization’s funding efforts back to the community.
“You may have heard its new slogan, ‘See it. Say it. Stop it’, which has resonated among our communities,” added Demkiw. “Toronto Crime Stoppers is the only Crime Stoppers program in the world to operate under this unique model and our communities are benefitting greatly from it.”
Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred, or about to happen, can make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or visit 222.tips.com.
Toronto Police Services Board Interim Chair Lisa Kostakis said the program is an extraordinary example of a hugely successful partnership between the police and the community.
“Through this program, the public plays an integral role in keeping our neighbourhoods safe by providing our police service with an enormous volume of beneficial tips,” she said. “And the funds raised through the program are used to support crime prevention through community engagement or important initiatives that aim to enhance community safety in Toronto.”
The Toronto Crime Stoppers program was launched in 1984 after then Chief Jack Marks asked now-retired Staff Superintendent Gary Grant – who was a Sergeant at the time – to start the initiative.
Constable Scott Aikman of Police Dog Services was presented with the Bill Hancox award for his work partnering with Toronto Crime Stoppers to create an annual calendar that raises funds to support the Community Rewards Program. In addition, the calendars featuring photos he produces of the TPS canine team, are used to create awareness for members of the community to report crimes anonymously.
In 2019, the Gary Grant Media Award of Excellence was launched.
Toronto Police Corporate Communications was this year’s recipient.
“From the inception of the program in 1984, Corporate Communications and its team of professionals have attended and provided coverage during crime prevention initiatives and events,” said Crime Stoppers Board member Mark Cousins who joined Grant in making the presentation.
“They extend support for internal and external messaging, utilize their social media platforms to amplify several crime prevention awareness campaigns and act as a liaison between the program and external media outlets.”
Toronto Crime Stoppers Chair Sean Sportun was recognized with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers that celebrates exceptional achievement, which was presented by Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner.
He has been on the Board since 2002.
“Through Sean’s leadership, fundraising efforts and educational awareness initiatives, he has contributed to crime prevention and enhanced community safety,” said Crime Stoppers Coordinator Marc Madramootoo who made the presentation. “His professional achievements in support of community safety are surpassed by his passion to volunteer as both a member and leader within the community.
“He is a visionary and leader who has played an integral role in the evolution of the Toronto Crime Stoppers Program and other programs around the world. He has taken a proactive approach for the program to educate the community in an effort to prevent crime from occurring. His forward-thinking and courage to just ‘take a chance’ had resulted in the creation of many successful community initiatives.”
Since 2018, Sportun has been part of the International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners that is a non-profit organization providing crime prevention training on a global level.
He is also a member of Seneca and Humber Colleges Diploma Advisory Committees, sharing his industry experience to ensure Police Foundation, Protection, Security & Investigations graduates are well prepared for post-secondary employment.
Scotiabank was the recipient of the Community Partnership Award.
Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Canadian-born Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.
He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.
Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.
Toronto, which implemented the initiative 39 years ago, has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.