Citizen won TMt return Weslaco Police Crime Stoppers TM phone

The Weslaco Crime stoppers hotline is not only a resource for the community, it TMs also a big help to the Weslaco Police Department.

It TMs an important tool for us, but if we don TMt know where the calls are going, who's calling, or if they are hanging up on people because they don TMt speak English-that TMs a problem for us," explained Weslaco Police Chief Sergio Ramirez.

The Chief told Action 4 News the person currently answering the phone for anonymous tipsters is not a police officer, but rather a former police department volunteer.

"I've heard him say, ~I don TMt know how to talk Spanish, call back later. TM I mean it takes a lot for someone to come forward and [give an] honest tip, and to receive that from the person answering, we just don TMt approve of that," said Chief Ramirez.

Chief Ramirez said the person picking up the calls needs to be held accountable for incoming tips, which could potentially solve serious crimes.

It TMs why he's been trying to get the phone back for the last two months.

On a volunteer, we can't take action on him if he violates a law [or] leaks some information. At least with someone that TMs a police officer that can answer the phone 24 hours a day, we know what TMs tips are coming in, where they are going and right now we don TMt," said Ramirez.

That worries the police chief, who TMs been reaching out to Crime stoppers, which is an independent non-profit organization separate from the police department.

We like the program, we want to work with them, but we've been trying for the last two months and we haven TMt been able to get that phone back," he said.

Right now, Ramirez doesn't know how information is being screened, how many calls come in, and if they are being properly documented.

"I know I've looked at his book and there is weeks and months [where] nothing comes in and we just find that troubling," said the police chief.

Ramirez is not the only one concerned, but both he and the Weslaco city manager are optimistic that the problem will be resolved in the near future.

"The public is calling in and it TMs not being answered by someone who is a trained law enforcement officer- that might be an issue. So again, we're just trying to make sure they know this is an issue, give them an opportunity to correct it so that the public is served properly," said Weslaco City Manager Leo Olivares.

Action 4 also reached out the Crime stoppers President Rudy Salinas, but our calls were not returned by the news hour.

Weslaco Police are asking people who would like to leave anonymous tips to call their main line at (956) 968-8591.