Give Crime Stoppers Deserved Credit

01 Sep Give Crime Stoppers Deserved Credit

On Sunday, September 27, 2011, The Post and Courier published Geoff Waggoner’s Letter to the Editor, in which he outlined the important work this often over-looked organization performs for our community.

As a citizen and resident of Charleston County, I was interested in and encouraged by your Sept. 21 editorial which reported, and commented on, the reduction in violent crime in the cities of Charleston and North Charleston. And I certainly share your suggested commendations for the police departments of both jurisdictions.

But as a former chairman and long-time member of the board of Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry, Inc., I was disappointed that Crime Stoppers, with its payment of anonymous cash rewards for information leading to arrest, was not mentioned.

As I am sure Chiefs Mullen and Zumalt will attest, the role of the eyewitness/informant in the investigation of crimes should not be understated. And the protection of anonymity for those who have valued information to offer should be obvious to all. And finally, there is financial encouragement for those who call, or text, or e-mail, or visit the website, with their tips.

Anyone who watches “The First 48 Hours,” or any other similar reality-based television program, will come to understand that the vast majority of “every day in the street” crimes are solved because of the involvement of others who have direct information. The science of CSI is fascinating. But it isn’t day-to-day reality.

Since its inception, Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry has received 29,600 anonymous calls, leading to 2,400 arrests, 9,700 cleared cases, $2.1 million of property recovered, and $809,000 of drugs seized. And these results are directly attributable to investigations which are begun with the valuable information provided by informants who aren’t afraid to speak.

The City of Charleston Police Department provides our very able and dedicated coordinator, Cpl. Fred Bowie, for the taking and relaying of anonymous tips to the appropriate investigating agency within the five-county area which we serve.

And the City of North Charleston provides the office, and the conference facility where the board can hold its regular meetings to discuss and approve the cash rewards And yet, despite the significant role that Crime Stoppers plays with the cooperation of law enforcement in Charleston County’s two largest cities, no funding of any sort is provided by Charleston County.

If The Post and Courier chooses to address the reduction of crime in Charleston and North Charleston, and to extol the police departments for their work, we can hardly disagree. But it seems only fair that some mention be made of Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry, and the financial challenges it faces with its program.

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