GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s been 50 years since Silent Observer was first founded, and the numbers speak for themselves.
“We've received almost 100,000 tips, Chris Cameron, Silent Observer Executive Director said. “And because of those tips, about 8,000 people have been arrested for serious crimes, and almost 10,000 cases have been cleared due to tips.”
And right now police around West Michigan need more tips.
In Grand Rapids alone, according to Grand Rapids Police Department, assaults, homicides, kidnapping and sex offenses are up nearly 11% compared to this time in 2021. Many of these crimes still remained unsolved.
The program has a history of helping solve larger-scale crimes, all thanks to one simple tip.
Take for instance a serial rapist in the Heritage Hill neighborhood back in the ’70s with 15 rapes in total.
“Police had no idea who was responsible, so the Silent Observer Program back then offered a reward of $7,500, '' Cameron said.
“And within two days, three men were arrested for those 15 rapes.”
A series of arsons in and around Kentwood where 10 homes were set on fire and no leads was solved thanks to a Silent Observer tipster. Unsure if it would lead to anything, a person contacted Silent Observer saying they knew a suspect who had a history as a child of setting similar kinds of fires.
“And police were able to stop him while he was setting an 11th fire,” Cameron said.
In just the last year, a Silent Observer tip helped police track down a suspect after he stabbed two people in a Wyoming Meijer parking lot.
In February, a major drug dealer was tracked down along with two weapons, cocaine and heroin again from a resident lead.
“We've received recent tips on identifying people that have been involved in shootings, and homicides,” Cameron said.
“And some of those are still being investigated. But we do hear that they are going to be very helpful.“
Just a reminder, if a person submits a tip that leads to an arrest, they will now receive $3,200 for ones related to murder, $2,000 for shootings with serious injuries and $750 for shootings that result in property damage.