Monday, March 12, 2007

CrimeStoppers Update

I wrote to Judge Richard W. Carter (Ret.), Director of Legal Services of the national CrimeStoppers organization, to ask whether the refusal of the Durham branch to release its board of directors is consistent with the organization's policies. Carter's response:
Crime Stoppers is a non-governmental entity, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit charity. As such, the organization is not subject to any Open Meetings or Public Information laws, generally.

However, most states do require that all corporations, including non-profits, periodically report to the state agency (such as Secretary of State) the names and addresses of the corporation's directors and officers. The information filed is not necessarily the current board, as there is typically no duty to report interim changes to the board.

Therefore, the police department was correct in not releasing any information about the Crime Stoppers board of directors.

That having been said, it is normally up to each volunteer who serves on a Crime Stoppers board of directors as to whether that person wishes for his or her name to be disclosed otherwise to the public.
As the post by JinC points out, the filing of the Durham CrimeStoppers with the North Carolina secretary of state is so out-of-date that the sole person it lists as on the board of directors died in 2001.

Carter's response suggests that local organizations are effectively accountable to no one. As 501 (c) (3), they are exempt from Open Meeting laws, even when--as in Durham--they are managed by a government employee. When they issue--as in this case--potentially libelous statements, they can refuse to respond to public inquiries as to the justification for their action. Because of their nominally autonomous status, they allow police departments to resist--as seen in the responses to attorney Alex Charns--inquiries about the origins and justifications for their actions. And then, when the public attempts to hold them accountable for their actions, they can go so far as to shield the membership of their board of directors.

While I have no doubt that many, and probably most, CrimeStoppers organizations do excellent work, it seems that the one and only check on a rogue CrimeStoppers organization is through civil lawsuits by affected parties. As we have seen in Durham, a structure essentially accountable to no one is a structure ripe for abuse.

29 comments:

Joe T. said...

Great research there. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Can someone post this to John in Carolina's blog comments? I'm having trouble posting there, but I want to make sure he sees this. He is doing research into finding the board members of Crime Stoppers. I found one.

He posted here on 4/24/2006:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/safedurham/message/163
that he was a member since 1994. So he was in a position to approve the wanted poster, or to deny that the board was involved.


QUOTE

Wow. You've got to be joking.
CrimeStoppers has been doing this, very successfully, and paying for the information, for over 20 years.
Call - 683-1200.

We pay for the info and we never want to know who you are.
In fact, I am very interested in starting a program in DPS.

Board member since 1994.

Pat Radack, REALTOR®, E-pro, e-Certified
Selling Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Let's make the Research Triangle your Home.
Prudential Carolinas Realty Co., Inc.

AMac said...

The last sentence in the post as it is presently written reads,

"As we have seen in Durham, that is a structure ripe for abuse." That would seem to have "civil lawsuits by affected parties" as its antecedent.

KC, are you suggesting that there has been significant abusive filings of civil lawsuits in Durham concerning this case? If so, which? Presumably "that" refers to something different, i.e. the structure of CrimeStopper Boards of Directors.

KC Johnson said...

Sorry abt that--clarified the language.

xyz said...

If such organizations receive tax-exempt donations, often they file a tax return.

Anonymous said...

JLS says.....,

Judge Carter is incorrect when he says: Therefore, the police department was correct in not releasing any information about the Crime Stoppers board of directors.

Possibly the DPD was within its rights. Possibly the DPD was not breaking the law. That most certainly does NOT make an action correct.

Michael said...

re: 10:35

Good work. Perhaps you could ask him who the rest of the members and board members are.

Anonymous said...

All tax exempt entities have to file an infomational tax return with the IRS (Form 990). It is a public document and the entitiy has to provide it to anyone who requests it. (I haven't looked at the regs for years but I think they have to have it available to hand out to anyone who asks for it in person). Actually, just google "990 disclosure" or 990 disclosure requirements and you'll see its same day release for an in person request.

Anyway, the form solicits the names and compensation (if any) of current officers, directors and key employees. Part V-A (page 5)

The 2006 990 filing isn't due yet, but the 2005 990 should be publicly available.

So Carter's response re compliance with public information laws isn't too accurate.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f990.pdf

Btw, love your blog. I'd read it more often but some of your langauge style is a little too much for me on a regular basis.

Hope this is helpful.

Anonymous said...

A quick look at IRS FAQs shows that tax-exempt organizations are required to make public disclosures of their annual tax returns. The return form requires filling out all directors, officers, etc. The information provided by the national guy is bogus.
The return is http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f990.pdf
This page http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=139231,00.html
says "In general, exempt organizations must make available for public inspection certain annual returns and applications for exemption, and must provide copies of such returns and applications to individuals who request them. Copies usually must be provided immediately in the case of in-person requests, and within 30 days in the case of written requests. The tax-exempt organization may charge a reasonable copying fee plus actual postage, if any."
Any organization that is exempt from the taxes the rest of us pay must do full disclosure by law.

bill anderson said...

Well, crimestoppers may be trying to operate incognito, but there was nothing incognito about the infamous poster. No doubt, there will be civil suits to help clarify matters a bit, and I am sure that David Addison and Dean Sue will be needing to find good lawyers to help them through the discovery process.

Remember, there were 43 pictures on that poster, which means that there could be up to 43 lawsuits. Should be real interesting.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson is right. Bring on the civil suits. There is plenty of actionable conduct by CS here, including the infamous "wanted" poster and the defamatory statements by Addison.

Anonymous said...

This is from the John in Carolina comments from today on the Addison post:
Anonymous said...
I can send you the board list - what email address

11:29 AM


Anonymous said...
actually - here it is - let me know if you need the back up

as of end of 2005 early 2006
robert dean - chair
kent fletcher - vice chair
don reese - treasurer
rest of board
jim thompson
jim carrington
jay freeman
patrick ellis
pat raddock
bill hinton
karla borges
dan hill
sue wasiolek

11:37 AM


Anonymous said...
oops - missed chick hinton

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Minor corretion-I don't think that the poster with the photos of the players was the CS "wanted" poster. It was the "vigilante" poster

TM said...

I would guess given the paucity of state filings that Durham's crimestopper program is not up on its paperwork. If it hasn't been filing state reports since 1997, I'm surprised it hasn't been administratively dissolved (which would have lead to a few days of panic and an administrative fine as the group "caught up").

Why not step back a minute and see where this road is taking you? You don't want to be the guys that "killed durham crimestoppers". The tips should still roll in and informants should still be paid. I don't think anybody disagrees with that. But the paperwork is there for a reason, not least so that the public can get ahold of the board in case something bad happens and it can be fixed with a minimum of fuss. In that, Durham's Crimestopper corp seems to have some work to do.

David Page said...

There are many bad guys and Duke student haters out there but Dean Sue is not one of them.

CrimeStoppers, like much of the good things about the Durham Police Department (and there are a few) are the result the efforts of the late Duke Public Safety Director, Paul Dumas. He mentored Sue when she had just joined the Duke staff years ago. It does not suprise me that she would serve on his pet project that resulted in solving many real crimes.

It is important that your good work is not diminished by casting dispersions in all directions as Nifong did. Remember that early on that Dean Sue was under attack from the press for stating that the race of the woman who claimed to be raped did not matter as all rapes should be handled the same. She was not part of the gang of 88 but instead was acused of indicating that "it" would blow over during the early days rush to judgement.

A little research (that you do so well) will point out that she has been a constant friend and mentor to the Duke students. (I would be happy to provide leads off line) You will find that she also has a strong history of support for student-athletes and athletics. You will find that she is advisor the the National Service Fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega) among many other service oriented boards and groups. She is also a proud Duke graduate that the students and alumni love and respect.

It should not be too much of a suprise that CrimeStopper members who do the pay-offs, sometimes in areas that would scare a New Yorker, do not care to advertise their identity. Most of the tipsters who turn in perps are perp themselves so there is some danger involved.

My guess is that your researches will show that the Police departments make up the "wanted" posters and offers of rewards for information and that the CrimeStoppers limit themselves to raising money and being the pay-off guys that are not reconized in the neighborhood as cops. I'd bet that they have, and want, no input as to who the Police target.


Going after Dean Sue and CrimeStoppers for not following the presses or bloggers timetable can only be detrimental to your goals and to our community. You have done too much good to reduce your effectiveness this way.

David Page said...

There are many bad guys and Duke student haters out there but Dean Sue is not one of them.

CrimeStoppers, like much of the good things about the Durham Police Department (and there are a few) are the result the efforts of the late Duke Public Safety Director, Paul Dumas. He mentored Sue when she had just joined the Duke staff years ago. It does not suprise me that she would serve on his pet project that resulted in solving many real crimes.

It is important that your good work is not diminished by casting dispersions in all directions as Nifong did. Remember that early on that Dean Sue was under attack from the press for stating that the race of the woman who claimed to be raped did not matter as all rapes should be handled the same. She was not part of the gang of 88 but instead was acused of indicating that "it" would blow over during the early days rush to judgement.

A little research (that you do so well) will point out that she has been a constant friend and mentor to the Duke students. (I would be happy to provide leads off line) You will find that she also has a strong history of support for student-athletes and athletics. You will find that she is advisor the the National Service Fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega) among many other service oriented boards and groups. She is also a proud Duke graduate that the students and alumni love and respect.

It should not be too much of a suprise that CrimeStopper members who do the pay-offs, sometimes in areas that would scare a New Yorker, do not care to advertise their identity. Most of the tipsters who turn in perps are perp themselves so there is some danger involved.

My guess is that your researches will show that the Police departments make up the "wanted" posters and offers of rewards for information and that the CrimeStoppers limit themselves to raising money and being the pay-off guys that are not reconized in the neighborhood as cops. I'd bet that they have, and want, no input as to who the Police target.


Going after Dean Sue and CrimeStoppers for not following the presses or bloggers timetable can only be detrimental to your goals and to our community. You have done too much good to reduce your effectiveness this way.

Anonymous said...

What would be the consequence of killing Durham Crimestoppers - would the number of crimes increase or decrease? Are we better off with them or without them?

Just askin'...

Anonymous said...

Check out AG Rud's comment on the Higher Ed piece written by Sandy. Makes his second statement look disingenous.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Excuse me, but just what led anyone to conclude that this is a lynch mob out to destroy Durham Crimestoppers?

DC has undoubtedly done much good at solving crimes in Durham. But this is a blog devoted to shining serious light on the murky and concealed aspects of the events that led up to the attempted legal lynching of the Duke LAX players.

DC has a splendid opportunity here to do a bit of self-examination and assist in holding the torch on ALL of the events that led to the attempted denial of the civil rights, and possibly the unjust imprisonment, of those LAX players.

Coming clean is the very best policy that DC could apply here - and I don't mean confessions without counsel, as the LAX players were asked to do. DC had better lawyer up and prepare to respond forthrightly to all examinations of any connections between its personnel and Board of Directors, and the hysterical behavior of G88, the potbangers, the Durham Police and the District Attorney.

Because it's all going to come out on discovery eventually, and DC will preserve its organization far better by shining lights than by stonewalling. We want the organization preserved, but acknowledgement of its members behavior and any necessary discipline will be the best way of going about it.

Michael said...

re: 3:09

I went to his moo but couldn't find a reference to his post on Sanday's article. Do you have a direct link to it?

Interesting that his post today talks about a race hoax at another school.

xyz said...

Go to
http://www.guidestar.org/

Register (free)
Look for Crimestoppers
Scroll down to Durham
View the 2005 form 990 (free)

Within the Durham Crimestoppers form 990, there are a names of people in the organization listed in their various roles.

locomotive breath said...

David Page-

I'm going to have to disagree with you about Sue Wasiolek. She got her undergraduate degree one year prior to mine and had returned to campus several years prior to my final departure with an advanced degree. So I'm well acquainted with her performance as Dean although I've only spoken with her once or twice.

She has been the one constant in a continuing effort at social engineering of the campus life. In particular, she has been the driving force in an attempt to force the party scene out of view of main campus to produce a more "intellectual" atmosphere. And let's face it, an alcohol-free campus would just make her job easier.

Whatever you might say about frats on Main Quad West the place was ALIVE. People of ALL stripes, geeks and greeks, would circulate back in forth with the frat houses serving as points of interaction. The fact that alcohol was available gave many people the opportunity to stop by the keg and talk to other people that they would have otherwise never met. This year I was on there one Friday night in January. I thought Duke had instituted a winter break. The place was dead. I guess everyone had their noses buried in a book somewhere. Or partying at a house off campus.

The short form is Wasiolek is a neo-prohibitionist. Forcing the party scene elsewhere eventually spilled over into the Trinity Park houses and other houses near campus.

So now the law of unintended consequences takes hold. Even without the 3/06 lax false rape allegation, there were negative Duke-Durham interactions between the off-campus students and the permanent Trinity Park residents. This was natural enough as the two groups had reasonable yet irreconcilable expectations. Students want to party until the wee hours of the morning, and should be able to, and permanent residents want to sleep, and should be able to.

And just to make the situation symmetrical, you have the 2/07 rape allegation at a party at an off-campus house that's not in Trinity Park. If (IF! IF! IF!) this second allegation is true, that negative Duke-Durham interaction was again was caused by the a frat holding their party off campus because they couldn't do so on campus. What's Duke going to do? Buy every rental property within a three-mile radius?

Sue Wasiolek and the administration needs to learn that alcohol is an issue that should be addressed on campus. They will be unable to stop students drinking. What they can do, and it's far more difficult, is to channel that behavior in a way that keeps the students safe while they learn that excessive drinking is a dumb idea and while they do that keep the students away from the locals.

I've had the same conversation with numerous members of my generation of students. If we were so out of control that the campus needed social engineering, how did (most of us) turn out so well?

Anonymous said...

Inside Higher Ed - March 2 - The Duke Case in Perspective -Peggy Sanday - see his comment in comment section. The tenured Professor looks like Alex R.

Anonymous said...

The direct link to Sanday's article in Inside Higher Ed is this

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/03/02/sanday

Hope this helps

Anonymous said...

lets try that again
http://www.insidehighered.com/views
/2007/03/02/sanday

remember to add her whole name at the end. This blog software tends to cut off long cut and pastes from the address bar

gak

David Page said...

I totally agree with Locomotive breath (gee I wish we would all use our real names) that in the sixties/seventies there was more alcohol on campus and that we held our liquor better back then. I was on campus for over 30 years and worked with Sue on many occasion as the advisor to the Duke Photo Group. The BlueLight and Jims Party store were jumping with business back then.

During the late seventies the Duke admin. tried to bring the drinking on to campus by opening a bar under Page Auditorium and having more kegs on campus. This was not social engineering but a caring effort to reduce the DWIs and traffic accidents off campus. Most of the Durham cops were/are UNC fans. Sadly there were many times when our students ended up in Duke hospital with alcohol poisoning. A major change occurred in the late 80s. The drunks got mean and the good times you remember were marred by fights and unwanted grabbing. The big bonfires in the 80s were great all night fun. By the NCAA bonfires of 91 and 92 it was no longer fun and the admin. began to crack down on the abusers and tried to make alcohol less that the driving force of the party scene. The social engineering that you talk about was as a result of a new president from Wellesley. It was Prez. NAN who kicked so many of the frats. out of prime campus space, had riot gear purchased, decried Division I sports and set up the woman’s center and "Safe Haven" across from her office (THE prime space on the quad).

BTW Did the author of the "Safe Haven" mean to give the impression that THAT building was the only place where a woman could be safe. The sign is still there today. I would bet that it was under Nan's tenure that most of the Gang of 88 were hired.

Sorry I digressed,

In the Early 200s on two separate occasions, drunk UNC students fell to their deaths from dorms and some parents wanted to sue every one in sight. I suspect that at the highest levels of Duke it was decided that we were much more vulnerable to law suit than UNC and pushed the problem off of campus to their shame. Earlier a drunk Duke student tried to jump over a chain and killed himself by tripping. There was a big to do as his smell and behavior masked his neurological problems.

Those "neo-prohibitionist" decisions were made at a much higher level than Dean Sue. As assistant VP of student affairs and someone trusted by the students she would be the logical person to be put "on the point" on the student drinking problem. We agree that "the administration needs to learn that alcohol is an issue that should be addressed on campus. They will be unable to stop students drinking."
Channeling a drunk will be a real challange.

It is a shame you only met Sue a couple times,and I hope you did not have locomotive breath at the time. Prolonged exposure would change your opinion.
Come on campus for a bonfire and you will get to see how much meaner the drunken student has become. I suspect that on all the campusesss todays students are not as mellow (oe maybe cant hold their alcohol as in our day.

The salient point of my original post is that she (or any one) should not be Nifonged, subjected to death threats (as I have been informed on good authority after my post) and be the innocent victim of a gang of 88 style witch-hunt based on so little information.

When it comes out that the CrimeStoppers board objected to the poster and handled it privately, will the apologies that we ask of the Gang of 88 be forthcoming from the bloggers that are pot banging now?

I hope we are bigger than THEM.

Anonymous said...

When, oh when will the NC AG's office drop this case. At some point, they becoming mini-Nifongs.

Anonymous said...

10:41

Excellent Churchillian blast. But there won't be any progress for months. I think the next scheduled date is in May. The one year anniversary is meaningless to all involved - it's just another day...

david page said...

to anonymous (the 2:50:00PM-12 Mar. one).

With respect to your question; "What would be the consequence of killing Durham Crimestoppers - would the number of crimes increase or decrease? Are we better off with them or without them?"...


Think about it.

The vast majority of the $28,800 donated in 2005 by the community resulted in convictions that took real perps. off the street. It may have even slowed up the need for the stool pidgeon perps, that got the money, to break in to your house or otherwise steal from you. All this is without tax payer expense.


So, how does the CrimeStoppers board deal with a Durham Police Department that unfairly misused it's good name and then "passes the buck"? Do they make a public fuss and take the chance of losing donations and police cooperation, or do they quietly and firmly address the problem and keep it from happening again? Good stewards praise publicly and critize in private.

That is why some quiet research rather than public condemnation would be more helpful in this situation.