The Metropolitan Police Department has long found success solving crimes with the public’s help. Now it’s widening its reach to seek assistance from a new audience: inmates and jail visitors.
For the past three months, inmates and visitors to the Clark County Detention Center have seen images and videos of wanted persons and details on unsolved crimes. The information has been displayed on monitors and kiosks throughout the jail, the Metropolitan Police Department announced Thursday.
Inmates can look up unsolved cases through the kiosks, use them to provide internal messages or call Crime Stoppers for free to help solve cases, Metro Capt. William Teel said at a briefing at the detention center in downtown Las Vegas.
“At the jail, we have a captive audience, right? Everybody’s there,” Metro Capt. Harry Fagel said. “They’re gonna be there for a little while. They don’t have a whole lot to do all day, so we thought we’d provide them with the same information that we push out to the public.”
Metro’s robbery bureau routinely pushes out media and public releases with still images, videos and robber descriptions from their unsolved cases. The theft crimes unit solves about 96 percent of its robberies, which Fagel said is partly thanks to help from the public.
Department leaders gathered about a year and a half ago to discuss how to reach a wider audience when seeking help to solve crimes, said Fagel, who oversees the unit. Historically, police have received tips from its jail population through the department’s intelligence section, Teel said.
“This is just another avenue for them to do it a little bit more covertly within their general population so their safety isn’t compromised at the same time,” he said.
Inmates also use the kiosks, which have been in place for a few years, for commissary services, grievance filings and absentee voting.
It wasn’t clear how many inmates already have used the service because reports to Crime Stoppers are anonymous, Metro spokesman Aden OcampoGomez said.
The LVMPD Foundation helped fund the implementation of the Crime Stoppers kiosk program, said Tom Kovach, executive director.
“This program is another important safety initiative for our community and we’re excited to see it up and running,” he said in a statement.
On Thursday morning, a monitor in the jail’s front lobby displayed a picture of Jammie Ramone Jackson, a 37-year-old man gunned down in front of a known flophouse last February, and an image of a black SUV police think migh have been linked to the killing.
Like the general population, inmates are eligible for cash rewards if their tips lead to convictions, police said.
“They have just as much of a need to make the community safe as the rest of us,” Fagel said.