To solve most crimes law enforcement officials need someone to talk. If witnesses remain silent -- if they don't share what they know or suspect -- the perpetrator will probably remain at large, able to victimize others.
"It's really simple: People need to get involved, if crimes are going to be solved," stated COMBAT Deputy Director Vince Ortega. "One of the biggest challenges we have in law enforcement is the lack of witness cooperation."
Ortega's is the voice of experience. He served on the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department for 30 years.
Because tips are so vital to investigators, getting citizens to call the COMBAT hotline at (816) 881-3662 and anonymously report criminal activity is the focal point of Jackson County's new anti-violence initiative. County Executive Mike Sanders joined Sheriff Mike Sharp and Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in launching the campaign to curb violence during a news conference February 15.
"We need your help," Sharp said. "Without your assistance, we can't solve crimes."
The COMBAT hotline number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Following the news conference, volunteers, COMBAT staff and other county officials began knocking on doors in Independence and Kansas City. Their objective was to spread the word about the campaign, urging citizens to "step up and speak up."
The visibility effort includes yard signs, door hangers and billboards.
During his tenure as Jackson County Prosecutor, Sanders was instrumental in promoting the "Silence Is Killing Us" awareness campaign in 2006 that doubled the number of calls to the TIPS Hotline.
Sanders stressed at the news conference that this current COMBAT campaign will be "sustained" throughout 2013 and into 2014, 2015 and beyond. He pointed to County Legislator Dan Tarwater (4th District) and called the Legislature's commitment to the initiative "long term."
"This is a permanent project for COMBAT," Sanders said. "The message may modify a bit, but this is something that will be continued going forward."