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New Crime Stoppers program for Archuleta County

Crime Stoppers is back in Archuleta County.

The program went live Wednesday, Feb. 1, and allows for the sending of anonymous tips online or through text messages.

Tips can be submitted online at www.PagosaCrime.com, or texted to 274637 (CRIMES). When texting, the message must start with the keyword “ACCST” in order to be routed to Archuleta County Crime Stoppers.

Messages are then encrypted and given a unique alias and ID to protect the identity of the tipster.

Tips can also be phoned in to 264-2133.

According to board members of ACCS, the Crime Stoppers program is the result of a charge, about nine months ago, from Sheriff Pete Gonzalez to a handful of area residents and Archuleta County Sheriff Office staff to look into a Crime Stoppers program to serve the area.

That group then moved forward with setting up the program and establishing its 501(c)(3) status.

The result was a contract with CrimeReports, the Canadian parent company of TipSoft, which allows citizens to submit anonymous tips to law enforcement.

Now, tipsters can submit anonymous information about non-emergent situations to law enforcement via the Internet or text messaging, and can communicate additional information in an anonymous, two-way dialogue.

Online tips can be filled out in English, Spanish and French.

ACCS will utilize a CrimeReports call center to receive tips, which will then be passed along to the appropriate local law enforcement party for follow-up.

According to Tim Horning, ACCS board vice chair, because CrimeReports is based in Canada and runs its call center there, tipsters remain anonymous — a standing upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court.

The use of the call center also removes the need to have specific employees for the program or train local employees to receive the tips and ask follow-up questions, Horning indicated.

Further administrative duties will be handled by the ACSO.

Once the program is up and running, Horning said the board will continue in place, with the main purpose of determining rewards for certain information.

According to ACCS, 1,197 reported crimes were logged in Archuleta County in 2011 — a 19.7-percent increase over 2010.

And, though the burglary solve rate for Archuleta County (34 percent) is well over the national average, two-thirds of burglaries remain unsolved — something the ACCS board believes will be helped with the start of Crime Stoppers in Archuleta County.

Currently, the program receives donations and sponsorships to keep the website, program, and reward fund running.

While the ACCS website touts that no tax dollars are involved, Gonzalez said Wednesday that, should sponsorships fail to cover all the costs, local law enforcement agencies would consider funding the program.

Information on sponsoring the program can be found on the ACCS website.

randi@pagosasun.com

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