Crime Stoppers looking to return to work | News, Sports, Jobs

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Warren County Crime Stoppers are looking to get back to work after a short break during the pandemic. Here, Sheriff Brian Zeybel, left, speaks at a recent Crime Stoppers meeting.

Warren County Crime Stoppers are making a comeback.

The voluntary organization aimed at reducing crime in the community went on a short hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’re getting back to work and plan to use the Warren County Fair to bolster those efforts.

“We will be at the Warren County Fair recruiting members and discussing Crime Stoppers and handing out flyers,” said District Attorney Rob Greene.

He explained that the effort aims to “make our new presence” known in the community.

At the heart of their operation is an anonymous tip line – 1-800-83-CRIME – and the prospect of rewards for information that significantly advances law enforcement investigations.

The organization has been in place in the county for decades.

“My father, H. Robert Hampson, mentioned Crime Stoppers when I was a little guy,” Philip Hampson explained. “I remember he said it was based on the theory that there is no honor among thieves.”

Although the founding date is not entirely clear, he suggested that the band originated in the 1970s.

“It’s a great way for law enforcement to talk to non-law enforcement civilians,” Greene explained, “To see what we’re doing, get feedback from non-law enforcement agencies.”

This information, he said, can identify issues that can lead to “more of a community police force” among the county agencies.

As the group gets back to work, they are looking for volunteers as well as people willing to support the effort financially.

Greene said volunteers involved with Crime Stoppers will have a say in voting on awards and identifying those amounts.

“When you come in and you’re on the board, you decide the value of that information,” he said. “It bridges the gap between civilians and law enforcement.”

“A lot of it is community involvement,” Sheriff Brian Zeybel added.

Crime Stoppers is funded by donations and, for now, will meet monthly.

“Donations are used primarily for rewards, but we also use them for other costs like phone bill and marketing materials,” said Gary Barnes.

One of the major fundraisers that supported Crime Stoppers was the leadership dump at the Warren County Fair.

Like the organization more broadly, which was also on hiatus during the pandemic, but Greene said the hope is to bring this event back in 2023.

Zeybel said Crime Stoppers have played a role in helping county neighborhoods keep their eyes peeled.

“It wasn’t a neighborhood watch, but it was a ‘Be aware of this crime'” he said, making these quarters “a bit more involved in law enforcement, (helping) with that channel of information.”

Zeybel said this revival of Crime Stoppers will be focused on developing those community bonds.

“We’ve turned this into ‘drop a penny and get paid'” he said. “We kind of disappeared from that community gathering.”

And officials believe that the community element is critical to community safety, which is what law enforcement is there for.

“Especially in today’s world, not so much in Warren County, the perception that law enforcement (have),” Greene said, in light of recent high-profile incidents. “It’s about taking the approach (that) we work with the community, listening to the community.”

Today’s breaking news and more to your inbox

Mark M. Gagnon