Totally eliminating crime from our communities is a goal that can never be achieved fully, but there's a good deal that can be done to move closer to that ideal.
High-quality, professional law enforcement is a vital part of any game plan to get crime under control. Even the best policing can't be effective, however, unless citizens do their part to keep crime at bay.
That's where Crime Stoppers enters the picture.
Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes members of the community to help generate the information critical to identifying and capturing criminals. It's based on the assumption that when a crime occurs, there are often people who have information police officials need. People fail to come forward for various reasons. Some fear reprisal. Others are apathetic or worry about assorted ramifications of "getting involved."
The Crime Stoppers program addresses these issues by offering people a way to provide information anonymously and providing cash rewards for information that leads to arrests.
The first Crime Stoppers organization was launched in New Mexico 35 years ago. The idea caught on quickly. Today Crime Stoppers boasts affiliates throughout the United States and in many other countries.
Here in Webster County, Crime Stoppers has been an asset to law enforcement for more than a quarter century. The impact of Webster County Crime Stoppers has been impressive. During the period 2000 through 2011, there was approximately an 80 percent arrest rate for those individuals put on its most-wanted list.
Inspired in part by the impact of Crime Stoppers in Webster County, a Hamilton County affiliate of this important local nonprofit has been formed. Members of the Webster County group have been mentoring those public-spirited individuals who have launched the new entity in our neighboring county. Fundraising for the Hamilton County Crime Stoppers is about to begin in earnest. The new group's board includes eight community leaders who are voting members and four law enforcement officials who are committed to the project, but are not voting members.
The Messenger is impressed by the important work Crime Stoppers has long undertaken in Webster County. The launch of a similar effort in Hamilton County deserves applause. By helping Crime Stoppers accomplish its goals, we can all help make our communities safer.