Callers experience issues while trying to report tips to Crime Stoppers

So far, Crime Stoppers has received 30 tips in search for truck driver's killer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Crime Stoppers confirmed it has received more than 30 tips as of Wednesday in the search for a truck driver wanted in a deadly road rage shooting last week.

One tip led law enforcement officers to the Pilot truck stop off Highway 301 in Waldo after a caller reported seeing a tractor-trailer with an orange cab that matched the description released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

It turned out that the truck was not the same one being sought, but investigators encourage people to keep calling tips in.

Police said they continue to seek the driver who shot and killed George Guerrero, who was also a trucker. Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office released a photo of a truck that matches the description of the one it’s looking for.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

But some people calling Crime Stoppers to report a crime tip have complained that they’re being put on hold for long periods of time, or even hung up on.

People told News4Jax that when they call, they have to sit on hold for long periods of time or get disconnected.

One of the complaints News4Jax received said, “I called the tip line. Not impressed with how long it took to give my information about a semi-tractor trailer possibly involved in the shooting on the Westside.  The women acted like she didn’t have a clue about it.”

Another woman reported the same thing.

“I just keep getting hung up on,” she said.

Wyllie Hodges, head of Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida, pointed out that the organization uses a call center in Canada to receive tips from across the nation. But he said that the issues people are experiencing are unacceptable.

“That is a serious issue with us, because that's what we're all about is taking calls about crime. And the last thing that we need to do is (have) people be disenchanted about calling because they didn't get the service that they require and need,” Hodges said.

Hodges said he wasn’t aware of problem and the call center helps keep the system anonymous. But he said he was concerned about these issues and will be looking into them.

“We check it ourselves weekly. We'll make a call up there just to make sure it's being answered properly and answered in a reasonable amount of time,” Hodges said.

The public information office at the Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax that it’s received a similar complaint, which is unusual, and forwarded it to Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida.

The Sheriff’s Office said Crime Stoppers offers things that it can’t, like placing anonymous phone calls that can’t be traced, because if someone calls JSO, the call is public record so it can’t be anonymous. The Sheriff’s Office also said it isn’t in the reward business, which shows how important Crime Stoppers is to fighting crime in the city.

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said he hopes that one reason this is happening is because so many people are calling in, otherwise it can be a problem.

“This is something that's almost a life or death situation they have to fix very quickly. I say life or death, people can be calling in on information on homicides that can lead to the arrests of someone. If these people are not arrested, they can continue to commit their crimes. So that's what makes this a life or death situation,” Smith said.

The complaints come just several months after News4Jax looked into criticisms about Crime Stoppers website not being updated regularly with crimes. It was blamed on a technical and staffing issue, which was quickly corrected the day our story aired.

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