Public alarm at the mounting levels of crime in Jamaica in the 1980's prompted a group of leaders from the private sector led by Gordon "Butch" Stewart, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), to appeal in an open letter in October 1987 to the government and to the political parties for the re-establishment of the rule of law and security of the people. "The Law - Abiding majority of Jamaica" the letter stated, could "not allow the nation to be taken over by the gunmen, political thugs, robbers and drugs barons".
The then Prime Minister, The Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, suggested that the JHTA raise funds which the Government would match for the purpose of mounting a national crime fighting initiative. "Butch" Stewart, assisted by Geoffery Pyne, set about raising the funds from the private sector. Commitments were received for approximately J$ 1,000,000. The JHTA then invited the Government to present its matching funds as well as to agree on how the funds should be best used.
The Government's position was that the private sector contributions should be used to assist the police force. The PSOJ Standing Committee on National Security, chaired by Michael Hirst, then Managing Director of McCann Erickson, Jamaica Ltd, after considering a paper submitted by J.A Lester Spaulding, then Managing Director and chairman of RJR Ltd and a member of the PSOJ Committee, formed the opinion, as indeed did the general public, that the reputation, attitude and operations of the police force had alienated the trust of the communities and reduced the public's relationship with the police force to its lowest level in the history of post independence Jamaica. The citizenry had become reluctant to give information to the police that could assist in crime fighting. The PSOJ felt that the most critical element in crime fighting, second only to physical Infrastructure requirements, was provision of information.
The PSOJ, now led by "Butch" Stewart, decided to initiate a "Crime Stoppers" Programme modeled after those programmes that operated in the United States which offered rewards for information leading to criminal arrests seizure of stolen property and illegal narcotics.
Prior to setting up operations, the group's PSOJ and Police representatives, Colonel McMillian and the then Superintendent of Police, Mr. Neville Wheatle, were commissioned to visit the United States to examine Crime Stoppers Programmes for structure, operations, financing and publicity. Because of the perceived public distrust of the police, the decision was taken to operate the Jamaica Crime Stoppers programme as a private sector affiliated entry with a civilian manager, unlike those in the States which were managed by the police. Following the visits in the US, the decision was taken to model the programme on the Beaver country - Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers operation which existed, at the time, outside of the membership in the International Crime Stoppers programme.
The PSOJ Group, with the $1M raised, established the tax exempted National Crime Prevention Fund (NCPF) Limited Liability Company, its owners being the trustees of the umbrella organization, the PSOJ.
The group created a partnership between the media houses - for the purpose of promoting public messages and appeals, the PSOJ - for financing support of the programme, and the police - as the critical user of the information and provider of the physical and human resource infrastructure, to create an optimal operational structure for the programme. A Board of Directors was appointed and the creative genius, Micheal Hirst, then Managing Director of McCann Erickson and who still serves on the Crime Stop Board, and J.A Lester Spaulding were appointed co-chairmen. Members of the Board were eligible for re-election in rotation in subsequent years in accordance with the Articles of Association.
Be establishing the NCPF, the architects sought to ensure that an institution would exist that could transcend the life of the PSOJ and its members. Financial contributions would be vested in low risk instruments (unless stated otherwise). The proceeds from the funds would be used to finance the Crime Stop programme.
A coordinator, Jennifer Cheesman, (now retired) was recruited out of Trinidad for her creative television and administrative background and the programme launched from the offices of the PSOJ on September 5, 1989.