In less than two years, Marshall County Crime Stoppers has helped take a number of criminals off the streets, with anonymous tips resulting in several arrests of high-profile crimes.
Now Crime Stoppers is asking for help from Marshall County businesses, individuals and organizations to do even more.
The crime-fighting organization established locally in September of 2015, has been contacting Marshall County businesses and individuals recently, asking them to help pay for the installation of security, not-traffic cameras throughout Marshall County to identify perpetrators and deter crime.
Crime Stoppers is closing in on its goal, with firm commitments of $20,000 each from the city of Marshalltown and Marshall County in hand.
The cost of installing a basic system of cameras throughout the county is approximately $58,000, according to RACOM, Inc. of Marshalltown.
Crime Stoppers directors recommended the city and county commit $20,000 each, with Crime Stoppers putting up another $20,000.
“Safety cameras have been so successful in other Iowa cities our size, both in deterring crime and in identifying criminals, that Marshalltown and the surrounding cities need to install them,” said MCCS board member and Marshalltown Second Ward Councilor Joel Greer. “We need the community to contribute $20,000 to match the county and city grants for this project.”
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 its June 28 meeting.
“Technology plays a significant role in crime-fighting,” Hoffman said.
In March, the Marshalltown City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to pledge $20,000 contingent upon Crime Stoppers formally committing their share as well as Marshall County.
MCCS director and Times-Republican Publisher/GM Mike Schlesinger in two presentations to the city council, said the cameras would be for security only — and not traffic enforcement.
He additionally promised only law enforcement would have access to data.
Schlesinger said the Marshall County plan is modeled after Dubuque’s successful initiative.
Dubuque started with a basic system, and due to its popularity, has expanded significantly.
Dubuque’s basic system was installed by RACOM, and that company was also hired to provide equipment and installation expertise for several expansions.
Crime Stoppers board members have been promoting the safety cameras to local governments and residents since last year.
Rural communities Haverhill, Melbourne and State Center recently endorsed the project, said MCCS board member and KDAO/AM/FM/TV owner Mark Osmundson.
Osmundson told the supervisors he and other board members hoped to visit other county towns.
Crime Stoppers is a national organization with local chapters 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, said Marshalltown Police Department Capt. Chris Jones.
“I have access and another police captain in our office has access and a series of other investigators that receive tips” he said.
Jones said he forwards promising tips to personnel assigned to the cases to which the tips pertain. Importantly, the cash incentives come completely from private donations.
Crime Stoppers tips can be submitted by telephone, text message or an Internet 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.
The results, according to county law enforcement officials, are measured in the number of tips made and later, arrests and convictions.
“Crime Stoppers has exceeded my expectations, that is for sure,” said Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper. “It has been helpful, and has made our community safer.”
MCCS officers are Osmundson, Chair; Greer, vice chair; Schlesinger, treasurer; Tami Lichtenberg, secretary; and Larry Raymon, fund-raising. Board members are Todd Steinkamp, Ellen Bergman, Carol Hibbs, Mike Miller, Carlos Portes and Holly Reimenschneider.
Crime Stoppers is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible. Send to: 112 W. Church St., Marshalltown, 50158. For more information, visit marshallcountycs.com.
Courtesy of the Marshalltown Times-Republican, MIKE DONAHEY Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org