This was a banner year for CrimeStoppers, from a number of perspectives, and 2017 promises to be just as good.
The most important way to measure success for our organization, of course, lies in how information we receive helps solve felony cases. In that respect, 2016 set positive records. We showed these important increases over the year before, which itself was a good year:
* The number of arrests thanks to citizen tips is up more than 20%.
* The number of successful tips received (leading to an arrest or resolution of a case) is up 16%.
We also can measure CrimeStoppers success in other ways. After 10 years, the Trust Pays program in schools has now removed more than 170 guns, as well as dozens of other weapons like knives, razors and Tasers.
Our five websites and our Facebook page are checked out by scores of people every day. Our advertising efforts have helped increase calls to 528-CASH, our tips line. And late this year, the Millington CrimeStoppers program came under our umbrella, adding a major city in Shelby County to our efforts.
In one very public way, as our supporters surely know, the city's crime rates took a bad turn: the city has set a record high for the number of homicide incidents in a 12-month period. As the year comes to a close, law enforcement has posted 223 deaths (as we go to press) due to guns and other forms of violence. In unincorporated Shelby County, 21 homicides have occurred, also a record.
Fortunately, those high numbers were offset by the fact that 70% of those cases have been successfully solved. Additionally, 21 homicide cases were cleared this year thanks to anonymous tips to CrimeStoppers (cases were not necessarily all from 2016).
As the community focuses more attention on the killings, and the root causes of the violence, we join in looking for a better new year when violence is not always the first response to differences or disputes.