Serving as a conduit of information, Guadalupe County Crime Stoppers gathers anonymous tips from the community to help law enforcement fight crime.
The assist can mean the difference between an open case turning cold and nabbing a suspect accused of any conceivable crime. Authorities said the help received is invaluable and they truly appreciate the great job the nonprofit organization and its board members do for the community.
“There’s precedent in the courts, Crime Stoppers carries a lot of weight,” Seguin Police Department Chief Terry Nichols said. “Tips that come in from Crime Stoppers are held to a high standard in the courts. We still have to verify everything, but it gives us a leg up from the get go coming from Crime Stoppers.”
Recognizing the organization’s immense value wasn’t difficult for Guadalupe County leadership. At one of its regular meetings this month, the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court proclaimed January 2020 as Crime Stoppers Month in Guadalupe County.
Members of the court congratulated the local Crime Stoppers board, volunteers and others involved with the organization. Commissioners recognized the hard work and dedication that goes into making the organization successful, which, in turn, helps make the county a safer place.
“...Crime Stoppers is a program that benefits everyone in the community and brings together businesses, citizens, law enforcement and the media to combat crime and make our communities safer,” the resolution read. “... Combining media awareness, monetary rewards and anonymity for tipsters, Crime Stoppers has created an effective method for solving crimes.”
The proclamation touted the success of the local Crime Stoppers for having received 1,332 tips, leading to 54 arrests, clearing 83 cases, seizing more than $535,000 in drugs and property, approving more than $14,500 in rewards, and paying out $11,500 to tipsters.
The entire state of Texas recognizes January as Crime Stoppers Month, said Ken Kiel, chairman of the Guadalupe County group’s board of directors. The designation trickles down to the county level.
The board members didn’t get into Crime Stoppers for accolades, Kiel said. But it is nice every once in a while to be recognized for a job well done.
“It’s always good to get a pat on the back, people saying you’re doing a good job,” Kiel said. “Law enforcement says it’s important to get
communication between them and the community.”
Crime Stoppers gets the job done by allowing people to anonymously offer up information, the organization gathers the information and disseminates it to the proper authorities. The organization then pays rewards for valuable information.
The prospect of getting money and remaining anonymous while helping out encourages residents to come forward with what they know, Kiel said.
“We haven’t had too many big cases, but the support is what really matters to us,” said Officer Matt Schima, Cibolo Police Department public information officer and crime prevention officer.
“It makes a big difference to have an organization that’s always seeking the public’s help in solving crimes. Being able to tie a monetary reward to tips is always helpful.”
Guadalupe County Crime Stoppers began operating in 2010 and has become a well-respected entity, commissioners said.
The organization enjoys a strong working relationship with the county sheriff, his deputies, local police chiefs and officers in cities across Guadalupe County.
The collaborations benefit everyone in the county, County Judge Kyle Kutscher said.
“We wanted to thank you for the hard work and dedication,” he said to Crime Stoppers board members. “It’s not only appreciated, it’s needed in this day and time. Law enforcement needs to know someone has their backs.”
Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said Crime Stoppers has been a tremendous aid to his office over the previous decade.
The sheriff’s office had a secret witness hotline in place when he took office about two decades ago, Zwicke said. Things evolved and worked out for the better with Crime Stoppers’ approach of ensuring tipsters remain anonymous, he said.
“What Crime Stoppers did getting out to the public, how Crime Stoppers works at getting into the schools to get tips to make our schools safer was a good thing,” Zwicke said. “They’ve come a long way in 10 years. I applaud them for their efforts in helping law enforcement and the citizens.”