Speaker praises Crime Stoppers

Wyoming officer suggests implementing crime tip system in area high schools

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2002

Addressing civic officials and members the Central Peninsula Crime Stoppers, a national speaker complimented the group on its successes and urged them to organize student Crime Stoppers groups at Kenai Peninsula high schools.

"I visited a chemistry class in Nikiski and the kids wanted to talk about someone having stolen a $2,000 stereo from a car parked at the school," said Gary Hazen, chief forensics officer for Crime Stoppers in Casper, Wyo.

"But no one called police. They thought troopers would be too busy," Hazen said.

Hazen, a retired Casper police lieutenant, also told the local group of success he once had helping a student send in a Crime Stoppers tip by way of the Internet.

"He had overheard kids on the bus bragging about a break-in they committed at a liquor store. As it turned out, a cross that was used in the break-in was a cross that had been stolen in a church burglary 15 years earlier," Hazen said.

"The father of one of the kids on the bus was implicated, and two crimes were solved with one tip.

"Student Crime Stoppers will work in this community."

Crime Stoppers is an organization that offers cash rewards to people who provide information leading to the arrest of suspects in felony crimes. Tips can be called in at 283-TIPS or (800) 478-HALT. Crime Stoppers does not use caller ID or recorded lines and callers do not need to give their names.

Speaking to about 30 people, including Central Peninsula Crime Stoppers members, Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford, Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp, Seldovia Police Chief Andy Anderson and Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey, Hazen explained why he thinks an organization in high schools would work.

He said that when he was in school, he was the type of "nerdy" kid who did not get into trouble, but rather dreamed one day of going into law enforcement as a career.

He said some students are mischievous and eventually break laws, while others fear being labeled as snitches. Through anonymously providing information about school locker break-ins, thefts of billfolds, calculators from backpacks and from students' cars, kids can actively take control of crime in schools, he said.

"I also visited with the Young Marines. What a neat program you have in this community. We talked about how they need to be responsible. They're not being snitches when they report crimes to Crime Stoppers," Hazen said. "They're being responsible.

"Student Crime Stoppers on this peninsula will triple your calls. It will help you tremendously."

Responding to a question from Kopp, Hazen said in order to start a student program, officials first need to convince the school principal of the need for the program, find a teacher who will serve as a sponsor, then broadcast over the school public address system that volunteers are being sought.

"Those kids will come forward," Hazen said. "We pay money."

He explained that to generate money for rewards, student Crime Stoppers can write out parking tickets for violations in the school parking areas and assess fines.

"And here's the great part," Hazen said.

"Kids go home and talk. And their parents talk about crimes they know of. And now, the parents are using the Internet to tell us about crimes."

Hazen said he has a student manual that explains how to establish a student Crime Stoppers program and said he would make the manual available to the Central Peninsula Crime Stoppers.

"Over 600,000 people have been put in jail because of Crime Stoppers," he said.

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