“Cold cash for hot tips.”
That’s the slogan of the local Crime Stoppers organization, and so far this year, they’ve lived up to it. More than $4,000 in rewards has been paid to area citizens who have called the Crime Stoppers tip line to give information that led to an arrest.
“There are a lot of times when the public does know something about a crime. We can’t do this without their help,” said R.C. “Buck” Owens, the local Crime Stoppers coordinator. “Our function is to pay all the rewards that we can.”
Crime Stoppers is a nationwide organization that works with law enforcement agencies by forwarding tips that relate to crimes or wanted persons that have been provided by anonymous sources.
“The relationship between Crime Stoppers and law enforcement is good,” Owens said. “We’re not trying to do their job. We’re trying to help them with their job.”
According to Owens, the organization works with local law enforcement agencies to publicize crimes when the agencies think the public may have information related to those crimes. For example, it might have occurred along a busy street, or might involve a neighbor.
“The information given out is public information,” Owens said. “The police and sheriff’s offices turn over details to Crime Stoppers so we can generate publicity.”
Crime Stoppers pays rewards for information received on its tip line that leads to an arrest. The cornerstone of the program is the guarantee of anonymity to individuals providing tips.
According to Owens and Barton Harris, who serve on the organization’s board of directors, reward money comes primarily from probation fees. They said that jurors can also donate their stipend to the organization and that the local group also holds fund-raisers. In 2006 it raffled a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“Eighty percent of the organization’s funds must go to rewards,” Owens said.
Both direct and indirect costs associated with crime impact the quality of life for all residents of Brown County, Owens said in a press release.
“Quality of life issues can dictate the future population and economic growth of our community. This makes these issues everyone’s responsibility. While law enforcement officers are hired to combat crime, they can’t do it without the assistance of the people within their jurisdiction,” Owens said. “Citizens need to be involved. Involvement can be through service organizations, civic groups, Neighborhood Watch programs or Brown County Crime Stoppers.
The local Crime Stoppers organization was created in 1984 and has been certified by the state since 2002. It is governed by a 9-member board of directors that meets monthly. The tip line for individuals with information about a crime or individual wanted for a crime is 646-TIPS.
For additional information about the local organization, write to P.O. Box 83, Brownwood, TX 76804 or call (325) 739-2053 between 8 a.m. and 12 noon on the first and third Monday of each month.