Jeanette Chavez has become a force for good in the community after the brutal slaying of her daughter Sammantha Salas in 2008. Not only has she reached out to other surviving family members of homicide victims, Chavez’s work was instrumental in getting Crimestoppers in Los Angeles County off the ground.
Chavez helped create the Los Angeles County branch and hopes it encourages people to come forward with information on unsolved crimes.
“These cases need to be solved and now people have a tool to utilize to make an anonymous tip,” Chavez said. “There shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t get involved now.”
Sheriff Lee Baca and newly anointed Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck both praised Crime Stoppers, saying the program has proven effective wherever it’s been implemented.
“Over a half-million crimes have been solved because people were willing to pick up the phone,” Baca said.
The program began in Albuquerque in 1976 and has since spread to communities across the country, paying out more than $75 million in rewards, according Mark Speer, executive director of Crime Stoppers.
Tips can be called in, texted or e-mailed to Crime Stoppers, and the information is encrypted to keep the identities of tipsters secret.
Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are paid for information on crimes ranging “from vandalism to murder to terrorism,” said Speer. The program does not cost the county anything because the rewards are funded by donations, he added.
Speer said Chavez’s help in organizing and soliciting donations was instrumental to Crime Stoppers getting off the ground in Los Angeles.
“She’s certainly taken a very proactive stance and feels that the best way to honor her child is to help other families stop violent crime,” he said.
Police agencies from 25 different cities in the county are participating in the program, Baldwin Park, Covina, El Monte, Monrovia, South Pasadena and Whittier.