East Spencer taking crime tips online

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Lee Barnes
lbarnes@salisburypost.comThe East Spencer Police Department has added a new wrinkle to its Crime Stoppers program ó police tips via the internet.
Law-enforcement agencies have been using Crime Stoppers programs for decades ó the first one dates back to 1976 ó but they’ve traditionally handled tips over the telephone. East Spencer now accepts tips via e-mail and a form found at its new Web site, www.EastSpencerPD.net.
The program came about after Ronald Hines joined the force as chief a year ago. Police were gathering information on suspected drug dealers and gang members, and Hines wanted a way to protect informants.
With the internet, said department spokesman Floyd Baldo, people who are afraid of being seen talking to police have “another avenue to contact us.”
The way the system is currently configured, only the chief and Baldo have access to the information generated by the website.
The only glitch in the system is one that’s common to other police department e-mail setups ó clicking on an individual officer’s e-mail address sometimes sends you to e-mail Neverland. For that reason, “You may want to copy and paste the officer’s e-mail address into your e-mail account rather than just clicking the officer’s e-mail address,” Baldo said.
“We’ve had several instances where citizens have asked why we didn’t respond to their e-mails, and it was because we didn’t receive them somehow,” he said.
Baldo said incoming information so far has led to felony arrests and the seizures of drugs and firearms.
Over the last several months, Baldo wrote in a press release, the East Spencer Police Department has seized more than $8,300 worth of cocaine; more than $1,400 worth of marijuana; and more than $200 worth of Ecstasy, Valium and Xanax.
Police have also seized nearly $2,000 in drug money and 12 guns, he said.
Those seizures have led to the arrests of eight people on drug-related offenses, Baldo said. They are:
– Henry Lee Wilder Sr., 47, charged with trafficking cocaine; possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver cocaine; felony maintaining a dwelling for drugs; and possession of drug paraphernalia;
– Melquan Shammell Torrence, 20, possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana; felony maintaining a dwelling for drugs; and possession of drug paraphernalia;
– Robin Otto Worth Jr., 26, felony possession of ecstasy; possession of marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia;
– Anthony Jermaine Rankin, 33, felony possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana;
– Brordrick Demon Sullivan, 25, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and obstructing an officer;
– Andre Rynaell Bognuda, 18, possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia;
– Timothy Jermaine Chawlk, 30, possession of valium and possession of drug paraphernalia;
– Antonio “Tony” Rashad Lee, 17, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana.
One of the best things about the program, said Baldo, is its expense ó or lack thereof.
“It’s not costing the town, or the police department, a penny,” he said.

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