Crime Stoppers making positive impact

by Cristin Parker

Crime does pay – when you call the Cherokee County Crime Stoppers with tips that lead to arrests in ongoing investigations, that is.

The state-sponsored Crime Stoppers program is a community-based collaboration of dedicated citizens, law enforcement and the media, who work together toward a common goal -- the reduction of crime and the arrest and conviction of criminals and fugitives in Texas.

While Cherokee County’s local Crime Stoppers program is not affiliated with the state program, it does model itself after that program to allow citizens to anonymously relay information on potential criminal activities to law enforcement agencies.

“The Sheriff’s deputies and city police officers can’t be everywhere at once,” Cherokee County Crime Stoppers President John Hawkins said. “That’s impossible. And the most recent statistics report one in three people will be the victim of a crime – that’s kind of scary when you think about it.

“So Crime Stoppers provides community members an incentive to be extra eyes and ears in their neighborhoods.”

Hawkins said he’s proud to report Cherokee County’s Crime Stoppers organization has assisted law enforcement across the county in solving numerous crimes, including burglaries, armed robberies and even murders.

“People know what’s normal activity in their neighborhoods and what’s not,” he said. “Sometimes they might learn about something because the perpetrator brags about what was done, or they notice someone suddenly has a motorcycle they didn’t have before – pissed-off girl friends are a good source, too.

“Whatever the source, any tips that lead to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward.”

Cherokee County’s Crime Stoppers is funded by a portion of the county’s probation fees and private donations.

“Even if it’s not a serious crime, like littering or illegal dumping, we still give awards for tips on those cases,” Hawkins said. “It’s just a simple way for citizens to help keep themselves and their neighbors safer and more secure.”

Since inception in 1981, Texas Crime Stoppers has grown from eight certified organizations to approximately 150 certified community and campus organizations.

“These organizations are run by dedicated volunteers, making it a cost effective tool in preventing and solving crime,” the Crime Stoppers website states.

Local Crime Stoppers organizations are designed to achieve citizen interest and involvement in three ways:

• anonymity;

• establishing reward systems that pay for information leading to the arrest or charges filed on persons involved in crimes, and

• (in some areas) selecting an unsolved “Crime of the Week” featured by reenactment in nightly television news broadcasts, radio spots, and newspaper articles.

In addition to community organizations across the state, the Texas Crime Stoppers team at the Office of the Governor has a partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety “Most Wanted Programs.”

These programs identify most wanted fugitives and sex offenders in Texas.

Since 2014, the number of Texas DPS partnership programs have grown to include Texas Stash House Rewards, Texas Fallen Hero Rewards and Unique Incidents Reward offerings (i.e. explosive package case, I-35 rock throwing, Governor’s Mansion fire, etc.).

Anyone interested in supporting the Cherokee County Crime Stoppers organization can donate funds by sending checks, made payable to Cherokee County Crime Stoppers, to Crime Stoppers, PO Box 562, Jacksonville, TX 75766.

To report a tip on a crime occuring in Cherokee County, call (903) 586-STOP (7867).