Communities halting crime with DeKalb law inforcers

By Michelle Landrum

Since 1982, DeKalb County residents have had the opportunity to be take part in the law enforcement in their communities. Sycamore Crime Stoppers depends upon community involvement and rewards information leading to the arrest of criminals.

The Sycamore chapter works with all DeKalb County police departments, providing important clues to help solve crimes. “Our job is to intake information and shoot it out to the proper departments,” said Sycamore Crime Stopper Coordinator and Police Captain Jim Laven.

Crime Stoppers generally receives information concerning vandalism and narcotics, he said, but last December, one informant’s tip led to the recovery of $1,500 in stolen weapons. The informant overheard a man attempting to sell weapons in a bar, and called the Crime Stopper number. The call was linked to a rural burglary and led to an arrest.

The program works as a “clearing house” for information, Laven said. A person may call in information about a crime and the caller is assigned a crime stopper number to assure anonymity. The department will call the informant back if the tip is useful.

The volunteered information is referred to the proper police department. If the information leads to the arrest of a criminal, the informant is recommended to the Sycamore board of directors to receive a cash reward.

Rewards range from $100 to $1,000, depending on the usefulness of the information and the severity of the crime, he said. In the past, informants have gone to the Crime Stopper office to pick up their rewards, had them mailed to a post office box, or even had the cash left behind a fence post on a country road.

The Crime Stopper program is conducted strictly on a donation basis. Local businesses and community members generally are the most frequent contributors, but a court might order a criminal to make a “donation” to the organization. The program does not cost the taxpayers anything and it “works great and provides good information,” Laven said.

Although the National Association of Crime Stoppers was established in the late 1970’s, there is no national governing board. Each county-wide chapter is independent and ruled by its own board of directors. Crime Stoppers is not run by community police departments, but most chapters are directed by a police coordinator, Laven said.

The majority of the board is not affiliated with the police department, he said. The Sycamore board of directors has 27 members and is composed mainly of community members and business representatives.