Chili cook-off raises money for Crimeline

Anonymous tip line raising funds to cover operational costs

SANFORD, Fla. – Crimeline is a vital tool for law enforcement across central Florida. Many agencies and community members gathered Saturday morning for a chili cook-off fundraiser to benefit the anonymous tip line.

"We'll always be here to help law enforcement bridge that gap of communication," Crimeline executive director Barb Bergin said.

Bergin says Crimeline takes tips 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. According to their website, the tip line has helped make more than 500 arrests and clear almost 700 cases in the past 12 months.

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Crimeline's role was recently highlighted during the search for accused cop killer Markeith Loyd.

Bergin said the call center took 1,433 tips during the nine-day manhunt and the days following Loyd's arrest.

She told News 6 the call center never expected a case like that.

"We take a thousand [tips] a month, so you can see where between staff being overloaded and the call center being overloaded," Bergin said. "Just our 800 number, people don't stop to think that that costs us pennies, dimes and dollars every time they call the number, but that's why we're there."

Bergin said Crimeline runs on money from a state grant, but relies on fundraisers like the chili cook-off to pay for other costs and sometimes contribute to the reward money.
"I want to cover my bills, and then anything over and above is good," Bergin said.

The chili cook-off was held at the Seminole Harley Davidson. Law enforcement agencies from across central Florida participated with their own recipes. News 6 meteorologist Tom Sorrells was a celebrity judge.

Participants said it's a fun and delicious way to support Crimeline and keep central Florida safe.

"This way we're able to help solve crimes. Today is all about that," Winter Park Police officer Javier Rodriguez said.

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