BY JENNIFER BAILEY
DANVILLE – A public forum next week aims to inform the public more about Crime Stoppers and how residents can make an impact on crime in their neighborhoods.
The Illinois State Crime Stoppers Association Board will have its September board meeting in Danville and the Vermilion County Crime Stoppers in conjunction with Illinois State Crime Stoppers are hosting a community forum the night before.
The public forum will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Days Hotel, 77 N. Gilbert St., in the upstairs banquet room.
The board meeting will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Vermilion County Crime Stoppers Board President Chris Clapp, who is a member of the state board, said the board decided to come to him. Clapp is in a wheelchair and it’s harder for him to travel to the state board meetings in Peoria. The board meets every other month.
“Plus before that they had been going to other places around the state and Springfield to meet the other Crime Stoppers members in those towns,” Clapp said.
State Crime Stoppers board members will talk about the importance of giving police information when you see or hear something.
The state and local Crime Stoppers work to assist local police, with the information being anonymous.
Clapp said other officials invited to the forum include Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy, Danville Police Chief Chris Yates, Crime Stoppers local coordinator Eric Olson, Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn, Vermilion County Board Chairman Larry Baughn, state Sen. Scott Bennett and state Rep. Mike Marron.
The Danville City Council meets that night, so Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. wasn’t sure if he’d make the forum, but is hoping to stop by the board meeting, Clapp said, adding that aldermen also were invited.
Clapp said about a dozen state Crime Stoppers board members are expected to attend the meeting. The state Crime Stoppers board will discuss legislation and other business matters. State board president is Loren Hamilton who is with the Jacksonville Police Department.
Members attending will come from areas including Jacksonville, Taylorville, Springfield, Quincy, Naperville, Boilingbrook and Lake County.
Clapp said forum is to “learn about Crime Stoppers and explain to them how it works, and not be fearful about calling the phone number.”
He said the public may have questions about the total anonymity of it.
In 2018, Vermilion County Crime Stoppers received more than 150 tips and paid out about $750 for information that led to an arrest.
According to officials, most tips that led to payouts were regarding individuals with outstanding warrants or was drug-related information.
Since 2014, about 60 cases have been solved with about 60 arrests and about $5,200 has been paid out to tipsters.
Since Crime Stoppers inception in 1988, 21.3 million in assets have been recovered/seized, 891 arrests have been made and approximately $29,000 has been paid out.
Current unsolved crimes include several shooting investigations, an arson, business burglaries, hit and run and an armed robbery.
Clapp said they don’t want the name of the person giving the tip, just the information.
Clapp said an anonymous phone call that comes into the tip line goes to Canada and then is sent to Dallas, Texas. Information is uploaded to a website that is protected and accessible by the law enforcement liaison. The person giving the tip is given a case number that is needed when a time and location is set later to give the tip reward. The amount of tip rewards depends on the case.
Donations and fundraisers have assisted Crime Stoppers with its payout funding. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards of up to $1,000.
The Vermilion County Crime Stoppers takes information on unsolved crimes and fugitives at (217) 446-TIPS (8477). The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anonymous tips also can be provided online at http://www.vccrimestoppers.org or through the free and secure mobile app P3 Tips.