Speak up against crime

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

There is a way for all of us to help Brookhaven and Lincoln County battle what can only be called a crime problem. And that’s to talk to law enforcement.

Too often, not enough of us are willing to do that. Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell has lamented that those with information about crimes or suspects won’t come forward. Some rightly fear being harmed for speaking out.

But Crime Stoppers can take that danger away by guaranteeing anonymity. The tip line relies on anonymous information, but is underutilized here in Lincoln County.

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“I think a lot of people don’t remember it’s out there,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing. “And a lot of people don’t know how it works, but it’s totally anonymous. We don’t have any idea what number you’re calling from — it’s kind of like the old saying ‘We don’t want the name, we want the information.’”

The process is simple: A tipster is never asked for his or her name or phone number but is assigned a number instead. The tip is passed along to the appropriate agency, and, if the tip helps solve the crime, it is reported by the agency to Crime Stoppers. Callers are instructed to call back with that number to see if their tip has been validated, usually after two or three weeks and periodically after that. If so, Crime Stoppers sets up the payment with a local bank and the caller picks up the reward using the assigned number.

If the information leads to an arrest, a reward of up to $1,000 is paid. That’s serious money that should get people talking. Again, Crime Stoppers doesn’t want your name, the group is only interested in your information. The number for Crime Stoppers in Brookhaven and Lincoln County is 601-823-0150.

Keeping refugees out

Despite Gov. Phil Bryant’s bold statements about not allowing Syrian refugees into Mississippi, it doesn’t appear he gets a say-so in the matter.

Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said states don’t have any legal authority to block refugees from being resettled in their communities. U.S. refugee programs are governed by the Refugee Act of 1980 that created a refugee coordinator for the country and outlined procedures for resettlement within the United States, according to The Associated press.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama said Sunday that the administration is moving forward with its plan to thoroughly vet and admit as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.

Bryant, a Republican, said Monday that he is working with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the state Office of Homeland Security to determine whether there are plans to put any of them in the state.

“I will do everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi,” Bryant said in a statement. “The policy of bringing these individuals into the country is not only misguided, it is extremely dangerous. I’ll be notifying President Obama of my decision today to resist this potential action.”

Bryant was joined by several other governors who have said they won’t allow the refugees in their states. The moves follow the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, which the Islamic State took credit for.

Proclamations about keeping “these individuals” out of Mississippi make for great headlines, but they do nothing to protect us from an attack.