Crime Stoppers taking criminals off the streets

Agency leads to 32 arrests

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO A Marshalltown security camera installed by locally-owned and operated RACOM, Inc. is shown. Albion installed two cameras earlier this summer.

Marshall County residents are safer because residents working in partnership with law enforcement has been successful in taking criminals off the street.

Now entering its fourth year of operation, the Marshall County Crime Stoppers program is a proven crime-fighter.

The results, according to county law enforcement officials, are measured in the number of tips made and later, arrests and convictions.

Capt. Chris Jones of the Marshalltown Police Department, Crime Stoppers Administrator, said 534 tips have been received since Sept. 1, 2015 – inauguration day.

Thirty-two resulted in arrests, Jones said.

“We receive three or four tips per week,” he said. “That number has held consistent since the program started. However, we do notice a spike in the number of tips received when we ask the public’s help in identifying a suspect.”

Hoffman and Tupper have said repeatedly at public forums residents can play an important role in serving as “eyes and ears” to suspicious activity and reporting it to authorities.

An estimated $4,850 has been awarded to those providing valuable information.

In Marshall County, all cash awards are derived only from donations by county residents and businesses.

How it works

Crime Stoppers is a national organization offering cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The crime-fighting initiative creates a cash incentive for tipsters to report information – and they can do it anonymously via an online form, text message or telephone call.

Tipsters can submit data pertaining to a potential suspect’s name, address, race, gender, height, weight, age, hair color, scars and marks, tattoos, clothing or animal ownership.

That information is sent to a third-party server before being rerouted to law enforcement, Jones said.

Only Jones and another captain have access to the information.

Tips are then routed toward appropriate law enforcement officials.

Crime Stoppers tips can be submitted by telephone, text message or a website.

The Crime Stoppers phone line is answered at all hours, seven days a week, at 641-753-1234. Calls are answered by Marshall County Communications Center operators.

Text messages can be sent to 247637 (CRIMES).

Tips can be submitted online at www.marshallcountycs.com.

Safety cameras

Crime fighting takes many forms, and the all-volunteer board of directors have been proactive in asking Marshalltown and other communites to install safety cameras to deter crime and record criminal activity.

So far Marshalltown and Albion have installed cameras. Marshalltown installed security cameras last year, and Albion installed two this summer.

Cameras were installed by RACOM, Inc. – the Marshalltown-based company awarded a contract to install.

Businessman Mark Osmundson and Mike Schlesinger, who recently retired as publisher and general manager of the Times-Republican, and others promoted the cameras after learning Dubuque had an extremely successful program.

They learned Dubuque started with a basic system, and due to its popularity, expanded it significantly.

Dubuque’s basic system was installed by the local RACOM, Inc., and RACOM was also hired to provide equipment and installation expertise for several expansions.

Osmundson and Schlesinger emphasized to the communities the cameras are not to monitor traffic offenses.

The cost of installing a basic system of cameras throughout the county is approximately $58,000, according to RACOM.

Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman believed so strongly in Crime Stoppers and the county-wide security camera project he took $20,000 from his 2016-17 department budget and applied it as the Marshall County share.

County supervisors Bill Patten, David Thompson and Steve Salasek officially supported Hoffman’s efforts at a June meeting last year.

“Technology plays a significant role in crime fighting,” Hoffman said.

The Marshalltown City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, last year to pledge $20,000 contingent upon Crime Stoppers formally committing their share as well as Marshall County.

They have additionally promised only law enforcement would have access to data.

Analysis

“Overall, I am extremely pleased with Crime Stopper results to date,” Hoffman said. “The program has exceeded my expectations. The collaboration between law enforcement and residents has been extremely positive.”

Marshalltown Chief of Police Mike Tupper feels equally positive about the program, which was modeled after a successful Story County Crime Stoppers initiative.

Tupper worked in Nevada – a Story County community – before coming to Marshalltown.

“Crime Stoppers has been a great program,” he said. “It continues to be beneficial and we are making progress in many areas.”

Crime Stoppers officers are Osmundson, chair; Joel Greer, vice chair; Schlesinger, treasurer; Tami Lichtenberg, secretary; and Larry Raymond, fundraising. Board members are Jeff Badger, Bettie Bolar, Ellen Bergman, Carol Hibbs, Mike Miller and Carlos Portes.

Contributions to MCCS are tax deductible, and can be made to MCCS, 112 W. Church St., Marshalltown, 50158.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com