Hamilton County law enforcement agencies now have a new tool to aid them in their search for wanted criminals. Crime Stoppers of Hamilton County is today debuting its Most Wanted poster, inserted in today's Daily Freeman-journal and Hamilton County residents who assist law enforcement with tips to find those on the the poster may be eligible for reward money.
The poster features 10 people who are wanted for a variety of crimes ranging from sexual and domestic abuse to operating while intoxicated, child endangerment and forgery. A photo of the individual is used if available and a physical description along with the charges are listed for each. The amount of the available reward is also listed. The next month will be a follow up to show which of those wanted have been apprehended and which are still at-large, according to officials.
Sheriff Denny Hagenson said the Crimestoppers program in Hamilton County developed out of the TipSoft program which encouraged local residents to anonymously text tips via mobile phone to the police when a crime was witnessed.
- Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship
Sheriff Denny Hagenson and Webster City Police Chief Brian Hughes review the first Hamilton County Crime Stoppers wanted poster.
"There are a lot of people out there who don't text," he said. Hagenson said he suggested that efforts be put towards a Crimestoppers program. "So now, we've kind of combined the two programs. People can call the number or text in tips."
The calls to Crimestoppers come directly into the Hagenson's office and are then distributed to the appropriate agency.
Hagenson stressed that the program is not just for Webster City, but rather is a countywide program to help reduce crime. Hagenson, Webster City Chief Brian Hughes and Chief Steve Butler with the Ellsworth-Jewell-Stanhope Police Department have been involved in the planning as has Lt. Kelly Hindman of the Iowa State Patrol.
To submit a
Crime Stoppers Tip
Call (515) 832-8437 or text CRIMES (274637)
"When we were first discussing this process, we realized it had to be a countywide effort. It's a good cause and we don't want to see it die on the vine," said Hughes. He added that it was important that the program developed from the citizens of the county, not from law enforcement.
"If the Crimestoppers was going to form and come together and be a force in the county, it was going to have to come from the citizens," he said.
A group of citizens came together to form a board to direct the planning and efforts for the organization. The Crimestoppers board - a diverse cross-section of volunteers has been working with law enforcement to set the direction of the program and to help raise funds for the rewards, Hagenson said.
"The Hamilton County Crime Stoppers board has been meeting for over a year in preparation for the launch of our first ever 'Most Wanted' Poster," according to Terry Christensen, board president. "We truly believe we can help make our communities safer by providing people ways to notify law enforcement with tips to the whereabouts of people who have committed crimes. With the option of calling or texting tips, all tipsters can be assured that their tips will remain anonymous."
The group established the following mission statement: "Hamilton County CrimeStoppers endeavors to encourage the community to assist local law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime by overcoming two key elements that inhibit community involvement: Fear and Apathy."
"We have patterned our efforts after the highly successful Webster County Crime Stopper group. I appreciate the help we have received from the Webster County board, especially John Bruner and Anita Guthrie. They have been excellent at providing our group help during this process."
Christensen said the board has begun its business-to-business campaign to help raise funds for the reward system.
"We plan on plan on visiting all local businesses during the summer. For as little as $100, you can be a member of Hamilton County Crime Stoppers," he said. "We are also looking for additional members to join our board as we grow."
Those interested in becoming a member of Crime Stoppers or serving on the board can contact Christensen at 832-4350 or visit the website: www.wccrimestoppers.com