Greg MacAleese, 71, is the founder of Crime Stoppers. As a homicide detective with the Albuquerque New Mexico Police Department, MacAleese was frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of cooperation from the public at a time when Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the United States.
In analyzing the problem, MacAleese determined there were two major factors that prevented many citizens from cooperating with police – fear and apathy. He developed a concept designed to overcome these two problems. Citizens feared retaliation if they provided information to police, so MacAleese developed a system whereby they could remain anonymous by calling a special non-police telephone number. To overcome apathy, MacAleese recommended a fund be established with non-tax dollars that could pay nominal rewards if their information led to the arrest and grand jury indictment of a major crime offender.
Since anonymity and cash rewards might foster abuse, MacAleese insisted the program had to have a civilian board of directors to oversee its operation and to develop the reward fund.
As a former award-winning journalist with The Associated Press, MacAleese also knew the program would need ongoing media support. Using a homicide case that he was investigating as an example, MacAleese helped produce a reenactment of the crime.
On 8th September 1976 MacAleese’s concept – now called “Crime Stoppers” – became a reality. A local television station featured the first case – the reenactment of a brutal murder of gas station attendant Michael Carmen. It produced immediate results and the case was solved within 24 hours of its airing.
At virtually the same time, another tip from a citizen led to the arrests of three men involved in a gang rape of a young woman. That case had remained unsolved for more than a year.
Crime Stoppers solved 298 major cases in its first year of operation and more than $300,000 worth of stolen property was recovered. The program’s success prompted other cities around the United States to start their own Crime Stoppers programs.
Today there are more than 1,500 Crime Stoppers programs operating throughout the world. A major crime is solved every 14 minutes as the result of Crime Stoppers tips.
MacAleese has earned many accolades. Chief among them are:
In 1977 he was named Police Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
In 1984 he was selected as one of “240 People Under the Age of 40 Who Have Changed America” by Esquire Magazine.
In 2001, John Jay College of New York City named MacAleese one of the 60 most influential people in law enforcement.
In 2009, he was named one of Albuquerque’s most influential citizens.