Sheriff Aaron Kennard says there are more than 600 criminal fugitives in Salt Lake County, but he only has two deputies assigned to look for them full-time.
More than ever before, law enforcement officers need the public's help in order to effectively fight crime, he said.Beginning today and every Friday, the Deseret News will print photographs of fugitives wanted by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Kennard said he is counting on continued help from the community in order to find those people.
Television programs such as "America's Most Wanted" have helped police agencies capture hundreds of criminals and solve cases that might otherwise be filed away in cabinet drawers with "unsolved" stamped on them.
Newspapers, too, have given the public opportunities to help put those responsible for criminal activities behind bars. Just a few weeks ago, a Salt Lake woman recognized the photograph of a man believed to have robbed and killed a Circle K clerk.
After seeing his photograph in the newspaper, she called police, and officers arrested him within hours. He has since been charged with first-degree murder. Salt Lake police directly attributed the arrest to the media and the public, who provided nearly 100 tips.
"We have learned that the public is our greatest asset," said Salt Lake FBI Agent Tim Screen. "The more we can get the word out, the more eyes and ears we have on the street."
The Deseret News and local television stations have helped publicize a statewide program called Crime Solvers. Each week, readers and viewers are encouraged to provide information about unsolved crimes. In 5 years, more than 2,500 tips have resulted in more than 800 solved cases and more than $2 million in property recovered. Many informants, whose names are kept confidential, have received cash rewards of up to $1,000.
FBI agents have arrested several bank robbers as a direct result of the Crime Solvers feature. Often, all agents have is a photograph and a description. But with the help of the public, that's often all they need.
"The public is willing to help and when they do, they feel good about it," he said.
Once a week for the past month, KUTV has shown photographs of five of the sheriff's most-wanted fugitives. A friend of a man wanted for theft called after seeing the man's photo and informed deputies where he was. The man was subsequently arrested. Another fugitive was captured after a member of his family saw his photograph and called the sheriff's office.
"They thought he had straightened out his problems with the law, but he had been lying to them," the sheriff said.
Anyone with information about any of the fugitives mentioned in the Deseret News is encouraged to call Crime Solvers, 964-CALL; the FBI, 355-7521; the Salt Lake County Sheriff's office, 535-5441; the Salt Lake Police Department, 799-3000 or their nearest police agency. Readers may also phone the Deseret News at 237-2100.