Chris Vetter The Head-Telegram
CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa County Crime Stoppers program will launch on Monday, providing the public with a safe and anonymous way to report crimes in the community, organizers say.
Rose Baier, Chippewa County Criminal Justice Services Director, said the program was developed after a series of town hall meetings as part of their Take a Stand Against Meth campaign.
“People don’t know what to look for in a crime, they don’t know how to report a crime, and they wanted to remain anonymous,” Baier said. “Currently in Chippewa County there is no anonymous line.”
Scott Sullivan, president of Chippewa County Crime Stoppers, said the organization obtained 501©(3) nonprofit status in January and secured donations to help pay for the program — no taxpayer money. is not used. Eau Claire and Dunn counties already have Crime Stoppers groups.
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“It’s pretty nationally recognized,” Sullivan said. “A lot of other counties have one. It’s proven. We’re just building on it.”
Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk welcomed the launch of the new program.
“With technology changing every day, our programs are outdated,” Kowalczyk said. “I think Crime Stoppers is one of the best programs for the public.”
Baier said a call center in Texas will take anonymous calls and submit the information to authorities. Baier said that in a small community, some people don’t want to call the police because they’re worried their voice will be recognized.
“We won’t hear any voices; it’s not recorded,” she said. “People are pretty much guaranteed to remain anonymous.”
An interesting feature of the program is that it offers rewards for tipping that leads to arrests, Baier added.
“Each tip gets its own ID number. There is a protocol for that person to collect their reward without having to identify themselves,” Baier said.
The website will also be updated frequently.
“We will have Crimes of the Week and Cold Cases on the website,” she said.
If someone sees a crime happening at that time, they should still call 911, not Crime Stoppers.
Inmates at Stanley Correctional Facility are printing dozens of metal signs that will be placed along highways or in parks or buildings across the county, displaying the Crime Stoppers phone number and website. Sullivan said he hopes the program will be used by people of all ages.
“We hope young people will engage,” Sullivan said. “If anyone sees something, I hope they have faith in anonymity.”
Baier said there has been a noticeable increase in crime, particularly methamphetamine, over the past decade. She noted that in 2014, Chippewa County had only 12 out-of-home placements for children. By 2021, this number had increased to 195 out-of-home placements.
“(This program) is for any type of criminal activity,” she said. “It’s not just drugs.”
Baier said the program and application will go live at 5 p.m. Monday. Donors to the project include Northwestern Bank, Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company and the Casper Foundation, she said.