Copiah County group works to aid officers in crime prevention

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Some citizens in Copiah County are working together to try totake a bite out of crime.

Central Mississippi Crime Stoppers Treasurer Edna Moody, whoheads up the Copiah County chapter, said the Central Mississippichapter serves five counties: Copiah, Hinds, Rankin, Madison andWarren. She said it helps the community remain secure both incitizens’ safety and their anonymity if they report a crime.

“Basically we just try to get the word out to the public that ifthey see a crime, they can call. They don’t have to ever give aname or address or anything,” said Moody.

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Crime Stoppers was founded by a detective in Albuquerque, 1976 when he was having a hard time getting leads on a murdercase. In a brochure, Crime Stoppers officials said they considerthemselves a “law enforcement multiplier.” They said by generatingleads through offering rewards, they can free up law enforcement todo more work.

Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones said Crime Stoppers hasproven to be a great resource to his department.

“It helps us. There are people that know something about a crimesometimes, and if we can give them a reward to help get thesecriminals off the street, it’s worth it,” said Jones. “What makesit a good program is that it allows people to interact with lawenforcement and give us valuable knowledge about a crime withoutendangering their identity.”

Moody said protecting the identity of callers is an extremelyimportant part of the Crime Stoppers, as many people who haveknowledge of crimes are afraid to call the police. According to theCrime Stoppers Web site, some are afraid of implicating themselves,some are afraid of recrimination by the person they give the tipabout, and some just don’t want to get involved with legal issuesand testifying in court.

“When they call the tips in, the phone number they’re calling isanswered by a company in Canada, and can’t be traced in the UnitedStates,” Moody said. “When they call the tip in to that number,they’re given a tip case number and they’re given another numberwhere they can call back to check on the tip to see if an arresthas been made. Once it has, they’re told where they can go pick upreward, which is up to $1,000 depending on the type of crime.”

She said the case number is given to the bank, which puts thereward money in a labeled envelope after the arrest has been made.Then the caller can go by the bank and give the tip number withoutever having to give a name or show identification to pick up his orher money.

And the process, which involves approval by the Crime Stoppersboard, as well as a formula for determining reward amounts, is areliable one, Jones said.

“It’s a pretty well thought-out process. They are veryconscientious about their funding and paying out the rewards,” hesaid.

Moore said any crime is fair game to Crime Stoppers. Sheencouraged anyone with any knowledge of a crime of any kind to callthe tip line.

“Cold cases, new cases, any unsolved cases,” she said. “Ifanyone has any information on it, they can call it in.”

Moody said everyone is invited to get involved with CrimeStoppers. The Central Mississippi Crime Stoppers meets in Pearl onthe second Wednesday of the month at the Pearl Community Room, nextdoor to the police department. The Copiah County chapter meetsevery three months on the second Thursday. The next scheduledmeeting is in August.

For more information, or to report a crime, call (601) 355-TIPSor (888) 8CRIMES.