Everyone knows law enforcement needs the cooperation of the public in the fight against crime. In my hometown of Flint, Mich. the mantra of the public is, “Snitches get stitches,” meaning if you talk to The Man you might get hurt. “Din’ see nuthin’, Din’ hear nuthin’, Don’ know nuthin’.”
I imagine the telephone in the Flint Crimestoppers office has cobwebs on it, even though Crimestoppers everywhere operates confidentially.
In San Diego, Crimestoppers started in 1984, the key partners being community volunteers, law enforcement, and local media. Most notable of local Crimestoppers’ statistics are the 4,396 felonies solved through the efforts of the organization, clearing a whopping 123 homicides and 704 robberies.
A few weeks ago Crimestoppers held their annual awards luncheon. Recipients came from every law enforcement agency in the county, including state parole and county probation.
Channel 8 news anchor Carlo Cecchetto did a fine job as the Master of Ceremonies. Co-keynote speakers were San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Greg Cox.
Bitter Bob Filner started off by delivering what he thought was a funny barb to Cecchetto. It seemed more mean than funny probably because Filner’s “friendly” smile looks more like a villainous leer. His putdown to Cecchetto, whose script had been misplaced was, “A real pro doesn’t need a script.” Not funny. Cecchetto handled the jab with class and humor. Supervisor Cox played it straight and gave a nice, short talk.
Filner’s speech, on the other hand, was used to politic about raising wages for the cops, a move designed to curry favor with the assembled masses. The drawback is that Filner only has a say in the wages of the San Diego Police Department. He should have kept his grandstanding politics out of the program and stayed on task, which was praising the law enforcement professions for good work.
The News 8 Crimefighter series was honored for their work in identifying and featuring wanted criminals.
Agent Geno Grippo was the honoree from Chula Vista. Grippo was assigned to the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, charged with pursuing long-term, proactive investigations with the intent of disturbing and dismantling groups within the gangs.
Grippo took down a top Mexican Mafia member responsible for selling methamphetamine and heroin in the South Bay. His efforts resulted in locating and arresting 32 targets. Approximately $175,000, two handguns, and over a pound of methamphetamine were seized along with four vehicles.
Several months ago Grippo took issue with a column I wrote about tricking stupid crooks. He accused me of “selling out law enforcement for a buck,” an accusation absurd on its face. The “tricks” I wrote about are common knowledge to anyone who has ever watched a few cop shows on television. While the “selling out” allegation was ridiculous, I wondered who leaked my hourly pay.
Chula Vista teenager Doyin Oladipupo was recognized for her actions during a burglary at her house March 19, 2013. Doyin heard people breaking in. After hiding in a closet she phoned 911 and spoke with 12-year veteran CVPD dispatcher Angie Rivera. Both Oladipupo and Rivera were superb in their composure and excellent handling of the situation. Although Dispatcher Rivera’s actions were praised it’s too bad they didn’t mention her name during the program. Three suspects were taken into custody. Everyone should be proud of Grippo, Rivera, and Doyin Oladipupo.
Basinski is a retired law enforcement veteran.