Crime Stoppers of Lincolnton-Lincoln County is currently recruiting additional board members to aid local law enforcement in crime solving.
“This has been one of the most proactive things to happen for the citizens in a very long time,” Sheriff David Carpenter said of the organization. “It’s great for us as an agency and bad news for the crooks.”
While he noted that Crime Stoppers began back in the 1970s, it “fell by the wayside,” he said, and wasn’t as valuable a tool as it currently is in the community, after its re-establishment in 2007.
According to Crime Stoppers President Barbara Kozar, who took office in January, 16 people comprise the board, including recruited members from the Lincoln County Citizens Police Academy and other board member referrals.
All members are local residents, noted Lt. Brian Greene, who serves as head of Lincolnton Police Department’s Criminal Investigations and Narcotics Division.
“It’s important for people to realize Crime Stoppers is a civil organization with board members made up of citizens from Lincoln County,” he said.
Greene praised the organization for both its ability to offer sources anonymity and money for accurate tips.
“Some people that have information on a crime choose not to report it to police because they worry about coming to court,” he said, “or that the person committing the crime may be a friend or family member, and they worry about retaliation from the person that committed the crime.”
Trained professionals answer each call, which is given a certain tip number to further protect the caller’s identity.
Although Crime Stoppers offers a reward of up to $1,000 for any tip leading to an arrest, Greene noted that often times, people report crimes without wanting to collect a reward.
“They simply want to stay anonymous,” he said.
In 2010, the organization received nearly 150 tips and awarded close to $6,000, Kozar said.
While law enforcement officials simply present tips and advise the board, Greene said members meet monthly to make all other decisions regarding reward amounts and fundraisers. They also establish policy and maintain a positive relationship between law enforcement, media outlets and the community, Kozar said.
Greene additionally pointed out the importance of having a large number of people on the board.
“Each board member brings a different perspective to the table,” he said. “It’s important to have these different perspectives; the more board members, the more variety of perspectives.”
Crime Stoppers is funded through grants and donations from both individuals and local businesses.
“I can’t say enough good things about the board of Crime Stoppers and their dedication to make this program work,” Carpenter said. “This is a great program for Lincoln County.”
Carpenter encourages residents to continue calling the Crime Stoppers tip line at (704) 736-8909.
Anyone interested in joining the board can email an application request to firstname.lastname@example.org. All applicants sign confidentiality agreements and undergo thorough background checks.