Metro Crime Stoppers fires administrative coordinator

Police probe finances of reward program

March 01, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The administrative coordinator for Metro Crime Stoppers - a regional program that pays rewards for crime tips - has been fired as city police investigate financial irregularities, police and other officials said yesterday.

Officials said the investigation is administrative and is aimed at determining whether money is missing and whether a criminal inquiry is possible.

Robin Stevenson, who has done volunteer work for the Baltimore Police Department and was hired by the nonprofit Crime Stoppers program last year to process tips, did not respond to interview requests yesterday.

She has been fired from her 15-hour-a-week job at Metro Crime Stoppers, based in Baltimore County. She also has been fired from her part-time job coordinating the Baltimore Police Department's Gunstoppers program, a tip line that rewards people who find guns.

One problem investigators face is that the secretive nature of the program they set up is hampering efforts to uncover potential fraud.

"Our job is to provide an incentive for folks to come forward with anonymous information," said Robert H. Beahm, security chief for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and chairman of the Metro Crime Stoppers board.

Metro Crime Stoppers, funded mostly by area businesses, allows people to anonymously call a number with tips about crimes and locations of suspects.

Metro Crime Stoppers has paid out more than $300,000 since it began in 1981.

Beahm said police council members noticed an increase in rewards being paid, starting last year. He said there also was an increase in calls coming into the tip line, "so we didn't feel it was anything that needed to be investigated."

Then the police council received information that Stevenson had "overstepped her authority" by personally handling the cash payouts to tipsters, Beahm said. That is supposed to be done by a sworn law enforcement officer and a member of the police council.

Baltimore police spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella would only confirm that Stevenson was fired Friday, from Metro Crime Stoppers and the Gunstoppers program.

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