Ride Along With Silent Witness
Oftentimes people have suggested my business card read… Cathy Droz – Cars, Cops and Jocks; funny as it may sound, I take that title seriously. Yes, cars have been my line of work and primary passion! However, I do so enjoy the fundraising I do for the NFL Legends and Silent Witness.
The NFL Legends are former NFL players living in Arizona where giving back to the community is one of their key objectives. I help raise funds for their pay-it-forward charities, as well as for the medical fund used for members of their organization in need. Ironically, I am not a football fan per se, and often times confuse NFL team names with baseball teams, but they are accustomed to my lack of knowledge and just roll with it when I cite the San Francisco Giants instead of the 49er’s. The 400 or so retired NFL players that live in Arizona are a close knit team and volunteer their time and energy to helping others whether they wear a Superbowl ring or wedding band.
For the past five years, I have also volunteered my time to sit on the executive board for Silent Witness. I joined the board because I’ve always felt law enforcement was underserved. Growing up in New York, so many of my brother’s friends and mine became police officers and firemen. I understood their dedication and the dangers they faced each day. When my dear friend Ed, a Port Authority Lieutenant, lost ten of his men in the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers I decided that taking the bad guys off the street, in whatever way I could, would be one of my personal goals.
When asked to describe Silent Witness, and what the board does, I start out by saying, “We raise funds to issue rewards to witnesses of crimes, who come forward with relevant information that may aid the police in solving those crimes.” Perhaps you’ve seen call 480- WITNESS with any information on either television or billboards. Well, that is the program that our board raises funds for and which I believe helps keep our communities safe. It is not a fancy organization with black tie events and celebrity endorsements. There is no funding from the city, state or the police department to help pay for these rewards other than our fund raising events and grants. We reach out to businesses and individuals to donate to a worthy cause and for me personally, helping to bring closure to the impacted families.
New Year’s Resolution
I urge all individuals to find a volunteer organization that fits your passion, time constraints, and makes you feel good about what you give back to your neighbors. Happy Holidays to everyone. Just take a minute to read what Silent Witness does and how it works.
Phoenix cold case: Silent Witness produces results
Yihyun Jeong and Justin Price, The Republic | azcentral.com
By guaranteeing a caller’s anonymity, Silent Witness allows the caller to provide information to authorities that might lead to an arrest and a victim’s case being solved, without the prospect of facing retribution.
Silent Witness, which was established in 1979, has developed into an inter-agency task force that utilizes detectives from all Valley law-enforcement agencies. Currently, there are four Phoenix police detectives and two detectives from other law-enforcement agencies within Maricopa County.
“The program has allowed us to solve about 250 cases a month, ” said Sgt. Derek Elmore, the program coordinator. “It’s incredible how the community has come forward to help our detectives. When you have the community involved, your eyes and ears grow tenfold.”
Elmore explained that many times, witnesses to a crime might not report what they saw, assuming that someone else would step forward.
“By putting the information out there, someone can see the details and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I thought the case was solved’,” Elmore said. “We are reminding them that we need their help.”
And if the caller’s information leads to an arrest or indictments, they are compensated for their help, Elmore said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The Phoenix Police Department’s Homicide Cold Case Unit has partnered with Silent Witness to create playing cards that display pictures and information about cold cases. The cards have been distributed into Arizona’s jails in the hope that inmates who might know something about a victim on the cards might come forward with information.
“We are hoping the more information we can drive out there to people who know information, could generate to more leads for us to pursue,” said Sgt. Troy Hillman of the Cold Case Unit. “It’s a phenomenal program and it has worked in a number of states.”
“Whether it’s someone who is calling because of personal reasons, or for the money, or if they are just being a good citizen, Silent Witness is huge help to law enforcement,” Elmore said.
How it works:
When callers contact Silent Witness to provide a tip, they are given a case number. They are not required to give their name.
— The tip-line phone, 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377), is a stand-alone phone that does not provide caller ID and the conversations are not recorded.
— If a caller has more information or wants to check the status of their case, they are advised to call the line within certain time frames using their assigned number.
— The tipster also has the option of texting or sending tips through an online form, where both are secured using encryption technology.
— If the information they provide leads to an arrest or indictment, rewards are distributed in a private, anonymous manner to the caller through a third party.