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COPS hotline marks 5 years

February 05, 2001

COPS hotline marks 5 years



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


RANSON, W.Va. - Jefferson County's crime tip hotline is five years old this month, and a police officer in charge of the hotline is hoping the milestone will generate more public participation.

Calls to the hotline at 304-728-COPS have dropped recently, said Lt. Robbie Roberts of the Ranson Police Department.

Roberts said he thinks calls have dropped off because people have not noticed arrests from the information they have provided. Roberts said people must remember that in some cases, it takes time to put together a criminal case.

On the other hand, Roberts estimated the hotline has resulted in more than 100 arrests since it was started in 1996.

Most of the tips have been about drug activity, although people have reported information about a variety of violations, from their neighbors having out-of-state tags to people they have spotted for whom warrants have been issued for their arrests, Roberts said.

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Three years ago, tips from the hotline led to three consecutive drug busts, Roberts said.

One of the tips was about drug activity going on at a house in Fox Glen, a subdivision about five miles west of Charles Town, W.Va., on W.Va. 9. After the tip was received, police were able to obtain a search warrant for the house, where they found 121 pieces of crack cocaine, Roberts said.

After receiving a similar tip about a house on Cattail Road, police obtained a search warrant for the home, where they found several stolen guns, marijuana and cash, Roberts said.

And after receiving a tip about drug activity in an apartment on Washington Street in Charles Town, police set-up surveillance operations to observe the apartment, Roberts said. Police later obtained a search warrant for the property, found a large amount of crack cocaine and arrested about six people, Roberts said.

Callers have sometimes offered crime tips involving cases in neighboring Berkeley County, W.Va., or Maryland, and the information is always passed on to the proper authorities, Roberts said.

"It's out there for anything. It's not like we ignore the other information," Roberts said.

In some cases, drug dealers have called the hotline to report other drug dealers, Roberts said.

"If they get the competition busted, it opens a market for them," Roberts said.

Police know the advantage of people being alert and reporting crime. On the national level, television shows like "America's Most Wanted" have been very successful in helping police nab criminals.

Callers who dial the hotline hear a recording and are then given the opportunity to leave a message. The calls are not traced or tapped and tips can be given anonymously, Roberts said.

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