Did you know that there are more than 1,500 Crime Stoppers programs operating throughout the world? A major crime is solved every 14 minutes as the result of tips provided to Crime Stoppers. Learn more about the history of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound and the global organization below.
Since launching, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has paid close to $1 million in tipster rewards. Those tips led to the arrest of more than 14,000 criminals and cleared over 13,000 felony cases. And we support more than 60 agencies in five counties—see the full list!
Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound officially launched in January 1988. Detective Myrle Carner from the Seattle Police Department was the first Law Enforcement Coordinator. The original program was named Seattle-King County Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound because it consisted of only two agencies: Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Myrle Carner (left) and James Fuda, both Directors of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, in July 2015.
The History of Crime Stoppers
When a young college student, Michael Carmen, was shot to death during a robbery at an Albuquerque, NM, gas station in July 1976, Detective Greg MacAleese had no idea who was responsible for the killing. No witnesses came forward, and it appeared that the senseless and brutal shotgun slaying would remain a mystery.
MacAleese, who worked for a newspaper before joining the Albuquerque Police Department, knew that something innovative would be necessary to encourage the public to get involved and help solve the murder. He conceived the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the homicide, guaranteed anonymity for anyone who was willing to call him with information, and put up a reward from his own pocket to encourage someone to provide a lead that would help identify those responsible for the murder of Carmen.
It seemed almost unnecessary to take such extraordinary steps to solve the killing of Carmen. It was a case that should have outraged the community and brought forth many witnesses. Carmen was only two weeks away from getting married and had taken an extra shift at the gas station to give a co-worker the night off. When police responded to the emergency call, they found Carmen gravely wounded—he’d been shot in the abdomen at point blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun.
The medical staff kept him alive for four hours and during that time he tried to tell detectives who was responsible, but he just didn’t have the strength to form the words. At that time, Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the country, and people were afraid to help the police.
MacAleese’s plan to identify those responsible for killing Carmen worked. Within a few hours after the re-creation of the murder was broadcast on television station KOAT, the detective received a phone call. The video image had triggered the memory of a person who’d heard a loud bang in the vicinity of the gas station and then saw a car driving off. The caller told MacAleese that the vehicle belonged to a resident in a nearby apartment complex. Through investigation, MacAleese and a team of detectives arrested two men within 72 hours and charged them with the murder of Carmen and a string of armed robberies.
MacAleese received other calls following the reenactment, including one that allowed police to solve the rape of a young woman. Realizing that this type of program might be useful in fighting crime, MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department to allow a group of citizens to establish the first Crime Stoppers program. For his efforts, Detective MacAleese was named the 1977 Police Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. And since adopting the Crime Stoppers program, Albuquerque’s crime rate dropped significantly and is no longer ranked in the list of 20 cities with the highest per capita crime rate.
Greg MacAleese, now 71, is the founder of Crime Stoppers.