Silent Observer has been helping the police solve crimes since 1972 by allowing the community to provide them with anonymous tips, via phone or online.
“The Silent Observer gives our community the opportunity to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Executive Director Chris Cameron. “So, the significance is a good tip might lead to the arrest of somebody. It might provide the missing piece of a puzzle that the police are trying to put together.”
Cameron spoke with FOX 17 on Monday afternoon at her office. She said the organization will reach its 50th anniversary on May 25, and they’re commemorating the milestone by highlighting a different case they’re working on each day from now until then.
Monday, it’s Arthur Brown’s case. GRPD found him deceased with a gunshot wound back on June 25, 2021 at a BP gas station on Madison Avenue. Friday, it’ll be James White, who was also shot and killed in an alley between Adams and Oakdale streets, police said.
“All of these victims were loved,” Cameron said. “They were somebody’s son or sister or mother. Their lives mattered.”
Cameron said the organization is currently working on 40 cases. She emphasized that all tips submitted are protected by law.
“We will make sure of that even if a tipster leaves some sort of identifier in there, we’re taking it out of that tip so the police are getting a completely anonymous tip,” Cameron said. “If we have more questions or if the police would like me to ask more questions to the tipster, we have a two-way dialogue.”
She said each tipster gets an ID number and a password and that's all they know. They always encourage tipsters to return to the website every few days to see if the organization has questions for them.
“Also, the tipster can provide more information,” Cameron said. “They can upload video and links. We get a lot of social media pictures. They can upload all sorts of information along with their written tip.”
Cameron said in the past the tips have been successful. She recalled a case a few years ago when an older woman was wheeling her groceries to her car in a Meijer parking lot when two younger women decided to snatch her purse.
“As they grabbed her purse, she fell over, and she hit her head and died,” Cameron said. “So, a Silent Observer tip came in that stated who was involved in that and those two girls are serving a long time in jail.”
Cameron added that Silent Observer will be holding a candlelight vigil on April 28 with all the victims' families.
She’s hoping that people will continue to look at the case and submit information about what they know. No tip is too small.
“I’m hoping that people will come together and say, ‘We can do this,’” Cameron said. “‘Grand Rapids, we’re better than this. We can solve these crimes.’”
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