Put simply it is a three part approach to solving the crime problem. Ottawa County Silent Observer relies on cooperation between the police, the media, and the general community to provide a flow of information about crime and criminals.

The Phone Call

Calls are received at the local Silent Observer tips line phone. This phone is a stand alone instrument which does not provide caller ID, and conversations are not recorded. The Silent Observer Coordinator receiving the information, completes the tips information form, makes initial inquiries and then passes the information to the investigating officer. Calls are accepted regarding any publicized request for information, such as "Crime of the Week" or such other crime(s) the caller has knowledge of.

By guaranteeing a caller's anonymity Silent Observer allows the caller to give information in a positive atmosphere without the prospect of retribution. By offering cash rewards for information leading to indictment or arrests, the program encourages otherwise reluctant callers to provide information.

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The Online WebTip

Tipsters now have the option of giving us tips online. The process is completely secure and anonymous and is a very effective and efficient means of safely communicating with us in today's world. Our WebTip process is powered by the world's leading online tip solution provider, Anderson Software.  

The very unique integrated Two-Way Dialog capabilties allow the tipster to come back and provide additional information to their tip at any time, but also provides a secure means for the coordinator to ask questions or provide reward information back to the tipster through the same secure and encrypted interface.

Structure and Funding of Silent Observer
Citizens in Ottawa County and the entire City of Holland are severed by 3 unique Silent Observer organisations

Holland / Zeeland Silent Observer - Serving the entire City of Holland and the City of Zeeland.

Northwest Ottawa Silent Observer - Serving Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysberg.

Eastern Ottawa County Silent Observer - Serving the central and eastern portions of Ottawa County.

Each of the 3 organizations are separate entities, each with their own board of directors, tip reward coordinator, and fund raising.  Silent Observer Programs are organized as a not for profit organization (Charity). A community board of directors provides direction as to the financial and promotional activities of the program. The board of directors enhances the community involvement aspect, and its function is vital to the programs success.

The Silent Observer programs are funded by private donations and fund raising within their geographical area.  Each organization has its own budget, and funds are not pooled or distrinuted where they are not generated.  The reward money paid out by the program is from the fund raising and donations from concerned citizens and businesses.

Each board of directors, made up of persons from throughout the area, meets on a regular basis to evaluate arrests and to decide on the size of rewards to be paid. Rewards are then distributed in a private manner to the callers. Callers are eligible for rewards but, despite this, many callers choose not to collect their rewards.

Does Silent Observer Work?

The answer is quite simply yes. Since the start of Silent Observer, many calls have been received resulting in thousands of arrests and recovery of substantial amounts of property. Calls have included information about murder, robbery, rape, assaults, drug and firearm offenses.

The success of a Silent Observer program cannot be purely judged on statistics, however, other benefits have come to notice:

  • A greater awareness in the community that there is a crime problem.
  • A willingness by the community to fight back against crime if it is given the opportunity and motivation.
  • Improved relationships between police, media, and the community.

Silent Observer Works