The Silent Observer Program
Tip Talk

March 2012
                                       volume 12
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In This Issue
Attention Android & iPhone Users
Volunteers Needed!
2011 Stats
Annual Report
 Director's Download...


There are many reasons why people don't come forward with information about crime: fear of retaliation, or maybe fear of testifying in court.  Even when people desperately want to right the wrongs of others or speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, fear gets in the way. Silence wins.  


But here in Kent County, there's an alternative to silence: Silent Observer.


The Silent Observer Program has been used by thousands of area residents tired of crime in their neighborhoods. They have called Silent Observer and given information anonymously that has led police to arrest criminals for homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary and more. They call because Silent Observer guarantees a caller's identity will never be known - it doesn't use caller ID and state law protects the identity of those who choose to call.


Two high-profile cases solved by Silent Observer tipsters were headlines in the news at the end of 2011: the series of arsons that plagued a southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood back in the summer of 2010 and the conviction of a teacher that had inappropriate relations with a student. The tipsters that shared their information about these serious crimes found that by using Silent Observer as their avenue to stop, solve and prevent crime, they had a direct link to law enforcement without compromising their identity.


Silent Observer transcends all economic and ethnic boundaries making it available to every segment of our community. A donor-funded 501 C3 organization, Silent Observer has proven over and over again that it is effective and worthy of our support.


By not contacting Silent Observer (or the authorities)with  information about serious crimes, who wins? Not you and me, and not our friends and family. The only beneficiaries of silence are the ones who make life dangerous for the rest of us.


  Chris Cameron



 Contacting Silent Observer Easier Than Ever


There is a new mobile application that lets the public anonymously submit tips to Silent Observer to help solve and prevent crime. The free TipSubmit application serves TipSubmit  Mobile Appthousands of communities due to its full integration with TipSoft, the industry leader in anonymous crime tip reporting and management. The new mobile application augments the existing TipSoft tools that Silent Observer uses to allow the public to submit anonymous tips via phone, web and SMS Text-a-Tip.  Tipsters get the convenience of submitting tips from their mobile device with the immediacy of SMS text tipping but without having to rely on the SMS text tip platform and limitations. Images may now be included, unlimited length messages, fully anonymous two-way dialogue and even virtual chat mode when both parties are online.


To install this free app, tipsters can search for "TipSoft" or "TipSubmit" on the Apple App Store or Android Market. Click here to install the TipSubmit Mobile App or to read more about it.

Volunteers Needed!
As detailed in the annual report under Outlook for 2012, we are taking on quite a few new events. We are looking for volunteers to sit on one of the committees or to work at Light the Night Against Crime 5K Run/Walk on August 9.  Additionally we could use some help posting flyers about Rock the Mic and the 5K around town. 

To make these fundraising events successful, we need people willing and interested in participating in them.  By liking us on Facebook, sharing our events on your Facebook page and registering for one of our events, you will be helping Silent Observer continue its important work in the community.

We need your help and support and would be grateful for any assistance you can give.

For more information on volunteer activities and opportunities contact or call 454-9110.

Stats At A Glance



Cases Cleared

Armed Robbery






Assault w/Intent



Burglary Home



Criminal Sexual Conduct



Hit and Run












Misdemeanor Narcotics



Misdemeanor Traffic









Probation/Parole Violations






Underage Drinking Parties









Total Value of Recoveries



# of Fugitives Arrested



(These stats do not include

Fast 50)


Silent Observer
PO Box 230321
Grand Rapids, MI  49523
Tip Line - 616-774-2345
Toll Free - 866-774-2345
TXT:  CRIMES (274637) include keyword TIP138 in message
Administration:  616-454-9110
Like us on Facebook!

Silent Observer

2011 Annual Report



For the past 39 years, Silent Observer has been a key partner in assisting law enforcement in solving crime. Our track record speaks for itself - more than 2,343 cases have been solved since 1996 through tips to Silent Observer including 38 homicides. Our goals are simple; to help stop, solve and prevent crime and make the greater Grand Rapids area a safe place to live, work and play.


2011 Overview

 Silent Observer hosted The Crime Stoppers USA Conference in August, and it was a huge success! We received wonderful Crime Stoppers USA

comments and words of appreciation from the attendees that travelled from all over the country to attend this all-important training conference. They loved the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, the food, the city, the Frederick Meijer Gardens and the relevant and interesting training they received. It was a huge undertaking for our little program but we managed to provide a first-class training conference that helped all participants rejuvenate their programs. Extraordinary support for this conference came from Meijer Inc., J.C. Huizenga, the Douglas & Maria DeVos Foundation, Amway, the Peter C. Cook Charitable Foundation, Peter Wege, the Dave & Carol Van Andel Foundation, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Universal Forest Products, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI and Target.


Several local companies made significant contributions to our organization in 2011 which includes; The Grand Rapids Press, the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Kent County Sheriff Department, Metropolitan Enforcement Team, Walker Police Department, AT&T (for our Text-A-Tip program), Bulman Products, Allstate Foundation, Greater Wyoming Community Resource Alliance, Steelcase, Farmers Insurance and Mike & Sue Jandernoa.

Program Outcomes

Tips to Silent Observer in 2011 assisted police in solving 206 crimes. These cases spanned the entire Kent County community and led to the arrest of 175 individuals. Eighty five of these cases took place on school campuses. These crimes may not have been solved had it not been for tips to one of Silent Observer's anonymous tip lines. Silent Observer saw a 35% increase in web tips and a 13% increase in text tips in 2011.


Cases Solved

West Michigan's Finest

Murder cases

Two murder cases were solved with the help of Silent Observer tips. Silent Observer received the initial tip that gave the name of the suspect involved in the Bradley Memberto homicide that occurred in August of 2010. Silent Observer cannot discuss the other homicide because it could compromise the tipster's identity.


Violent Crimes

Tips to Silent Observer led to three people involved in a kidnapping for ransom plot that took place in Grandville; a tragic and life changing assault of a man on Ionia NW; the rape of two women on Plainfield NE by two men; armed robberies of gas stations and a Huntington Bank branch in Greenville.



A Silent Observer tip led Wyoming police to the person responsible for seriously injuring an 81 year-old woman during a robbery of her purse outside a Family Fare Supermarket in February 2010.



Apprehending fugitives and parolees continues to be an important directive of the Silent Observer Program. In 2011, 28 people wanted for crimes such as attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, criminal sexual conduct, larceny, home invasion, retail fraud, drug crimes and domestic violence were arrested due to tips called into Silent Observer. Because of these tips, some dangerous criminals are off the streets of the Kent County area.



Drug dealing continues to be a problem in this area. Thanks to tips, 27 people were arrested for selling meth, cocaine, marijuana, fentanyl, and prescription medication. Police were able to remove $260,000 worth of drugs from our streets thanks to tipsters using Silent Observer as their avenue to report crime.


Fast 50 Campus Program


Fast 50 PosterSilent Observer's Fast 50 Program is in middle and high schools in 18 different school districts as well as Calvin College and Grand Rapids Community College. Fast 50 tips led to the confiscation of seven weapons and drugs like Adderall, Vicodin, Marijuana, Cocaine and Oxycontin, along with bottles of alcohol. In addition Fast 50 tips led to a student involved in sexting, another involved in bullying, and students stealing from their fellow classmates.


Reach of Silent Observer

Positive tips were confirmed by police agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Marshal Service, Grand Rapids Police, Kent County Sheriff Department, Grandville Police, Wyoming Police, Walker Police, Cedar Springs Police, Metropolitan Enforcement Team, Kentwood Police, Lowell Police, Rockford Police, Muskegon County Sheriff Department, Ottawa County Sheriff Department and Greenville Police. Our goal is to ensure that people have access to Silent Observer whenever they need it. That is why we offer various ways to contact Silent text messaging.



Silent Observer hosted two events in 2011 with the goals of raising funds for our felony reward program, community outreach activities and increasing tips to our tip line.


Crime Stoppers USA National Conference - Because of sponsorships and support from businesses and individuals from the area, Silent Observer was able to raise nearly $30,000 by hosting this event. Close to 120 people attended from as far away as Guam, England, Alaska and Hawaii to learn how to re-energize their programs and learn new ideas. We used local talent to train the attendees and we were proud to showcase our city which included admission to the Ford Museum, a gala at Frederick Meijer Gardens and a police equipment display on the bridge over the Grand River.


Coldwell Banker logo
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt Charity Golf Outing to Benefit Silent Observer -


Outlook for 2012

Goals for 2012 include increasing positive tips to our tip lines through outreach to the community, upgrading our web site and social media activities and empowering students to play a role in making their campuses safer.


We are also planning some new activities as we celebrate our 40th anniversary in November 2012.


16th Annual Coldwell Banker Charity Outing - Friday, June 22 - Sunnybrook Country Club - Tee-off for a great cause at the 16th annual Golf Outing benefiting Silent

Observer. Monies raised will help Silent Observer continue to play a significant role in keeping Grand Rapids a safe environment, which is essential to our economic vitality. You are guaranteed great golf and a great time! Click here to register or for more information. 


Rock The Mic: Artists Against Violence- Silent Observer is launching this exciting new anti-violence initiative. Young people, ages 13-25, will be given the opportunity to submit an original song that speaks to the anti-violence movement, respect, healthy living, Rock the Mic:  Artists Against Violence

settling disputes in a positive way, standing up for what is right, self-respect and dignity. All music genres are accepted from rap to hip hop, rock & roll, to the spoken word. A panel of judges will narrow down the field to 10 finalists who will then perform live amd the top three winners will be announced. We are hearing more and more that young people are involved in violent crime. Shootings, drug crimes, gang activity, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery and homicide perpetrated by our youth have been a problem in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. In fact, a Task Force consisting of many police departments in Kent County was recently created with the specific task of identifying and charging people involved with the shootings in our community. It seems like those causing trouble in our neighborhoods are the ones getting all the attention. Silent Observer wants to change that perception and give those with a positive message to share to step up and speak out. Preventing violence is a key aspect of any vibrant community, one where young people enjoy every opportunity to learn, thrive and excel. Our goal is to have underwriters secured by the end of March so we can launch this project mid-April. 



Light The Night Against Crime 5K Run/Walk - August 9 - Calvin College - Light the Night Against Crime is a fun night forour community to come together and take back the streets of Grand Rapids. The focus is community, empowerment, and action. We are planning a family friendly expo with children's activities prior to the race. The race will start at 7 p.m. and we are dedicating this event to solving three cold cases:

  •  Janna Kelly - disappeared in December 2007 and was found murdered in March of 2008
  • Erica Sevigny - killed by a hit and run driver in April of 2010
  • Lee Priester - shot and killed in July of 2007

Monies raised will go towards a victim memorial when we participate in the Day of Remembrance and Hope on Tuesday, September 25.

Light The Night Against Crime 5 K



Day of Remembrance and Hope - Tuesday, September 25 - Silent Observer will hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of all victims of crime. We will read out loud the names of victims of crime that would like to be remembered and recognized. At this vigil we will dedicate a memorial to all those who have had to endure being a victim of crime.


40th Anniversary Gala Event - November 13, 2012 - Amway Grand Plaza Hotel - Called the "Comeback Tour", this event will feature those in the community who we have roasted in the past. As of this writing, Michelle VanDyke, Sarah Smolenski, Mike Jandernoa and Peter Secchia have agreed to participate. More information will be forthcoming.