Det. Sgt. David Hodges honored by Dauphin County Crime Stoppers By BARBARA MILLER, The Patriot-News
Published: Saturday, October 08, 2011, 2:29 PM
Unsolved crimes such as the 2010 slaying of a woman in a Swatara Twp. garage and arsons in Millersburg homes last fall and fugitives wanted on armed-robbery and drug charges have all been featured in Dauphin County Crime Stoppers.
The detective who decides which crimes are in the weekly Crime Stoppers column — and who reviews the hundreds of tips it generates each year — was honored by the organization last week for his efforts.
Det. Sgt. David Hodges, 53, has been the liaison between the Dauphin County criminal investigation division and Crime Stoppers for the last five years, and is a 20-year veteran of the criminal division.
“He is constantly looking for new ways or things he can do to help the program,” said Jackie Kimmel, chairwoman of the all-volunteer Crime Stoppers board of directors.
Kimmel said Hodges recently set up a Facebook page for the program.
“He is very organized, very dedicated. He truly works hard for the program,” she said.
Hodges said one of the most publicized crimes that was solved with help from a Crime Stoppers tip was the hit-and-run case of Tom Druce, a former legislator who served two years in state prison for leaving the scene after hitting and killing a pedestrian in Harrisburg in 1999.
The tip concerned damage to Druce’s vehicle, Hodges said.
Sometimes, family members call to tip off police about one of their relatives, such as a grandmother calling to ask if she can collect the reward if she brings her grandson in.
And then there was the suspect who turned himself in, Hodges said.
“He said he was tired of people calling up and asking where he was,” Hodges said.
Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. said Crime Stoppers is “an invaluable tool for law enforcement.”
“Many people will call a hotline for Crime Stoppers to give anonymous information they otherwise would not give to the police,” Marsico said. “We’ve had brothers turn in brothers. The type of information we get really varies.”
Each week, Hodges asks local police departments for suspects or crimes to feature in Crime Stoppers, which has run for 1,283 consecutive weeks, or he highlights one of the many fugitives wanted in the area.
“With some, we have had some luck, but some we haven’t,” he said. “The majority are legitimate calls. Now and then, I get a crazy one,” Hodges said, such as someone calling to report a truck speeding on Interstate 80.
Sometimes, suspects end up being charged with additional crimes when they are apprehended, he said. “The ones where we get some guns off the street are also satisfying,” Hodges said.
Hodges speaks with tipsters and is the only person who knows their identity, if they reveal it, and the information is kept confidential. “There are state statutes that protect us from being subpoenaed for that information,” he said.
Tips also come from professionals who work these cases for the reward. “I’ve had calls from California and Florida,” he said.
The Internet has helped increase the volume of credible tips to Crime Stoppers. “I have a big distribution list. It bounces every which way,” he said.
The Crime Stoppers board of directors evaluates whether a reward should be paid when an arrest results from a tip. They knows tipsters only as a number when they discuss the case, Kimmel said.
Hodges said he doesn’t have a philosophical problem with paying a reward for tips.
“It gets people off the street that might not get caught for a while, and maybe when they’re not getting caught, they’re doing more crimes,” he said.
Marsico agrees. “It’s information we otherwise wouldn’t get. People are motivated by different factors, money being one of them,” he said.
Rewards are funded through fundraising, donations and grants, and no taxpayers’ money is used, Kimmel said. Two fundraisers are held each year — last week’s “sidebar social,” at which Hodges was honored, and a golf tournament.
Hodges said there is sometimes confusion about the reward itself, with some recipients thinking the amount they would receive would be greater. “It is not $2,000, it is up to $2,000. If we gave that to every person, we’d be bankrupt,” he said.
Kimmel, a financial planner, said the Crime Stoppers board is made up of volunteers from all walks of life, ranging from doctors to accountants. Her interest in Crime Stoppers was prompted in part by an unsolved crime near her hometown in northern Dauphin County.
Tracy Kroh, 17, disappeared Aug. 5, 1989, in Millersburg in upper Dauphin County. “She went missing and never came back. It stuck with everyone my age growing up in Wiconisco,” Kimmel said.
- Since Dauphin County Crime Stoppers was started in 1987, there have been 1,250 arrests, $435,000 worth of property has been recovered, and more than $155,000 has been given out in rewards.
- So far in 2011, 45 cases have been cleared, 42 arrests made and more than $5,300 has been paid out for tips.
- To reach Crime Stoppers: call 800-262-3080; write Crime Stoppers of Dauphin County, P.O. Box 469, Harrisburg, PA 17108; go to www.dauphincounty.org and click on “criminal justice”; on Facebook under Crime- Stoppers-of-Dauphin-County-PA.