Greater Gonzales County Crime Stoppers has new leadership and a renewed focus on its mission since 2012 to help law enforcement by encouraging the community to say something when they see something unlawful.
“The last set of officers who came in for Crime Stoppers did so at right at the beginning of COVID, so it was hard for them to get anything started or going because they were not able to attend classes due to the pandemic,” said Christina Jahns, one of the newest GGCCS board members.
“So Melissa (Cunningham) and I took over this past summer and we were able to get to a class and learn all of the ins and outs of the program and we’re really excited about getting it moving in the right direction and getting the community more involved as we put the word out about what Crime Stoppers does.”
The next monthly Crime Stoppers meeting, which is open to the public, is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Waelder ISD cafeteria and dinner will be provided. Meetings are usually the last Tuesday of every month.
“We had the last meeting in Gonzales and hopefully we’ll have the following one (after Waelder)) in the Nixon-Smiley area,” Jahns said. “We’ll just keep rotating it so not everyone has to drive that far.
“When we do have our meetings in Gonzales, we try to do them at noon because that’s when the majority of our officers can attend since the majority are here in Gonzales. When they are in Waelder or Nixon, we're going to shoot for a 6 p.m. start time because that allows more of the community to come get involved. Also, they have smaller departments in those communities, so they usually are able to attend in the evenings.”
So what is Crime Stoppers? It is not law enforcement, but a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which offers cash rewards to persons who provide anonymous information which leads to the felony arrest of criminals or fugitives. That information may be received either through the secure telephone tip line or through a secure website connection or the mobile app P3 Tips.
“Crime Stoppers became a thing because there was an officer who felt that people don’t speak out because they are in fear of retaliation or retribution,” Cunningham said. “Basically, we encourage the community to speak, you know, ‘See Something, Say Something.’
“They are completely anonymous and we will never ask for their name. Through Texas Government Code 414, it regulates that not even through the court system can any of their information be given out or identified, so everything is completely anonymous, and they are able to get a cash reward for any information that they can come forward with.”
Jahns and Cunningham explained the tipster either assigns themselves a four-digit code when using the P3 app or they are assigned one when calling the tip line and “we only know you by that code.”
“After law enforcement receives the tip, they send a message back to us letting us know that the tip was good and an arrest was made off that tip,” Jahns said. “We will contact you through the app to let you know that the information we were given was good and to come pick up your reward.
“We have an account set up at the bank and you go through the drive-thru teller lane and write down your code number. We will have already called the bank to tell them ‘tipster 1234 is coming in for their reward.’ So no one should ever ask for your name or need your name in order for your tip to pay off.”
Cunningham said it has been a while since a payment has been made out of the Greater Gonzales County Crime Stoppers funds, but there have been some recent tips made, including one that might possibly help solve a recent rash of thefts in the area, and she is excited to think that they may be able to pay out a reward sooner rather than later.
Jahns said the organization is also reaching out to the local school districts to get them involved bringing the Safe Schools program under the Crime Stoppers umbrella.
“They can submit tips the same way that community would, but those tips would be forwarded to the officer or administration there, and they can handle them from that point on. They could turn in a tip about somebody who has a gun, or a vape or narcotics and they’ll get paid cash as well for those tips,” Jahns said.
Cunningham said the organization has posters with QR codes that can be scanned and used to report a tip — some geared towards schools and others geared towards the community at large — and they are being placed “in places where it’s less conspicuous, you know, like restrooms at bars or in schools.”
For more information about Crime Stoppers or to report an anonymous tip, call 830-672-TIPS (8477) or download the P3 Tips App. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org.