Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County was established in March of 1985 with the cooperation of now retired Sheriff Geoffrey Mongue.
Crime Stoppers originally began in Albuquerque, New Mexico when a young college student, Michael Carmen, was shot to death during a robbery at an Albuquerque, gas station in July of 1976. Detective Greg MacAleese had no idea who was responsible for the killing. No witnesses came forward and it appeared that the senseless and brutal shotgun slaying would remain a mystery.
Detective MacAleese, who had worked for a newspaper before joining the Police Department, knew something innovative would be necessary to encourage the public to get involved and help solve the murder.
He conceived the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the homicide, guaranteeing anonymity for anyone willing to call with information, he put up a reward from his own pocket to encourage leads that would help identify those responsible for the murder.
Carmen was only two weeks away from getting married and had taken an extra shift at the gas station to give a co-worker the night off. When police responded to an emergency call they found Carmen gravely wounded, shot in the abdomen at point blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun. The medical staff kept him alive for four hours during which time he tried to tell detectives who was responsible, but he just didn't have the strength to form the words.
At that time, Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the country and people were afraid to help the police.
MacAleese's plan worked. Within hours after the recreation was broadcast he received a phone call. The video image had triggered the memory of a person who heard a loud bang in the vicinity of the gas bar and then saw a car driving off. The caller told MacAleese the vehicle belonged to a resident in a nearby apartment complex. MacAleese and a team of detectives arrested two men within 72 hours and charged them with the murder of Carmen and a string of armed robberies.
MacAleese received other calls following the reenactment, including one that allowed police to solve the rape of a young woman. Realizing that this type of program might be useful in fighting crime, MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department to allow a group of citizens to establish the first Crime Stoppers program.
For his efforts Detective MacAleese was named one of the people in the 1970's who changed the face of the United States and was also named the country's Police officer of the Year. It's also interesting to note that since adopting Crime Stoppers Albuquerque's crime rate has dropped significantly and no longer is ranked in the list of 20 cities with the highest per capita crime rate.
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