In the last five years over 15,000 tips to law enforcement agencies in Indiana can be attributed to one web site, www.indianasmostwanted.com IMW. Today the IMW added the active warrants from the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC).
John Poer, who runs the Indiana Fugitive Apprehension Unit of the Indiana DOC states he very excited about the program. “This will give us another tool for generating leads on wanted fugitives,” stated Poer. “We currently list only 57 warrants, but we’ll soon be adding close to 600 additional warrants now that we’re part of Indiana’s Most Wanted”, added Poer.
The site was the brainchild of TEK Interactive Group (www.tekinteractive.com). TEK developed the program in 2002 as a tool to assist The Allen County Sheriff’s Department. Since the inception of the program in 2002 through the end of 2007, the Allen County Sheriff’s Department has received 8,536 online tips resulting in 3550 arrests and the elimination of an additional 1986 warrants. The additional warrants represent tips for those currently incarcerated or deceased. By comparison the long running Fox television program, America’s Most Wanted has resulted in 937 captures in its 20-year history.
IMW has received commendations from every level of law enforcement in Allen County, including former Sheriff Jim Herman, current Sheriff Ken Fries and the northeast Indiana Crime Stoppers organization.
Lieutenant Mike Keesler is in charge of the Warrants and Fugitives Division of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. Keesler says that before the site was up, there wasn’t much of a resource for tracking down people who were wanted. There was the successful Crime Stoppers program, but he says that was originally designed for people to report details or possible leads about specific crimes, not necessarily to report the whereabouts of a wanted person. “Prior to this, we would put eight photos in the daily paper, and those would be our Crime Stoppers wanted people,” Keesler says. “So, we would get phone calls, people call in tips, or stopping local law enforcement they saw, and ask if Johnny had a warrant, and that’s how it went. This has been much more effective.”
Gregory Lewis, Director of Northeast Indiana Crime Stoppers, agrees, saying that Indiana’s Most Wanted has “doubled or tripled” Crime Stoppers productivity. “This thing, to me, is one of the greatest tools I’ve ever seen in crime fighting, and I was a policeman for over 30 years,” he says. “Anyone in the state of Indiana, anyone anywhere, can look at not only who has warrants, but you can see a photograph of that person. Without this, how is the average citizen going to realize who has got a warrant and who doesn’t, unless they see one of eight pictures we put in the newspaper once a week?”
Over the years, TEK has also donated several other sites, including The Fort Wayne Police Department, FWPD Pipe & Drum Brigade, the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers and the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
The program is free to any law enforcement agency nationwide.
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