Inside Muskegon’s ‘Silent Observer’ Call Center

Posted at 7:32 PM, Apr 30, 2013

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — It’s an important part of any investigation, the tips and information police receive from the public.  It’s something police in the Jessica Heeringa case are depending on, especially now that the sketch of a suspect has been released.

Fox17 got a look inside Muskegon County’s Silent Observer call center to see how they handle all the calls coming in.

“Information drives an investigation,” said Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler,”and the more we can get into the hands of the investigators, the quicker we can get it to them, the quicker they can get on it.”

The tip line is run out of dispatch center of Professional Med Team Ambulance, a community partner that volunteers to take the county’s calls. It’s anonymous: no information is asked of the caller, who is given a confidential number they are referred by.

The report sheet dispatch fills out to send to investigators has reminders of things to ask the callers, any piece of information that could spark someone’s memory.

Roesler noted the center’s importance in the Jessica Heeringa abduction case, ” just how crucial it is to get any little bit of information that people may have.”

He said that, in a number of homicide cases, he has seen tips from Silent Observer turn out to be leads that broke cases wide open.  “You never know which piece of information or little bit of information is going to make that puzzle come together.”

The sheriff said there are hopes that the system might be upgraded this summer so people can use their smart phones to text tips to Silent Observer.

The number to call Muskegon County Silent Observer is  231-72-CRIME or 231-722-7462.


Silent Observer’s number is 231-72-CRIME.