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Keeping Crime Stoppers strong

Organization needs members, donations to thrive

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
John Bruner, a longtime board member of Webster County Crime Stoppers, poses with the Top Gun plaque. Members of the community who donate $500 to Crime Stoppers get their own plaque with their name inscribed on it.

Webster County Crime Stoppers plays a key role in helping law enforcement keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

Since 2001, citizens participating in Webster County Crime Stoppers have directly assisted with the capture of over 1,700 wanted criminals, according to Terry Cook, vice president of the organization. Additionally, about $175,000 has been paid out to citizens during that same timespan.

John Bruner, who has been a Crime Stoppers board member since the local unit started in 1982, credits the courage of Webster County citizens for coming forward to help solve crimes.

“It’s just been terrific to witness the number of great citizens that have had the backbone, the courage, to say, ‘Hey I have some information,'”said Bruner, a former educator at St. Edmond Catholic School and current financial adviser with Central Financial Group. “We need to get these people that are doing these things off the streets.

“It’s amazing that we have paid out so much money over the years and less than half who call in even want a reward. Less than half take a reward. And even those that take the reward, that’s great. We are living in tough times.”

Currently, Crime Stoppers has a $7,000 reward posted for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for a shooting that killed Jamael Cox, 25, and Tyrone Cunningham, 47. The two men were killed on June 16 in the area of 10th Avenue Southwest.

But a reward like that would not be possible without members and donors.

That’s why Crime Stoppers is seeking additional members and donations through its membership drive.

“We want to get the word out there that Crime Stoppers is still out there,” Cook said.

The membership drive has two levels. The standard membership is $100. Then, there’s the Top Gun membership, which is $500 and comes with a plaque.

“All that money is used for rewards for crimes that happen in the area,” Cook said. “Nobody on the board gets paid, it’s all for crime.”

Aside from the membership drive, Cook is hoping a few more people will become board members themselves. Becoming a board member is free, although members are subjected to a routine background check, Cook said.

The board members typically meet once a month, but haven’t met as often during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are looking for younger or young professionals to get involved,” Cook said. “Some of our members are getting older.”

A big part of being a member is investing time to promote Crime Stoppers, Cook said.

One idea that is in the works is a junior Crime Stopper program in partnership with the schools.

“Crimes happen and we want to solve them in the public and the school system,” Cook said.

Cook said it’s important the public knows that when they call the tip line (515-573-1444), it’s completely anonymous.

“We don’t know who calls it because the call goes to Canada and comes back scrambled,” he said. “We never know who the people are who are calling us. It’s always kept confidential.”

Cook has been vice president of Crime Stoppers for about four months. He has been associated with the organization for about six years.

“I really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s neat to say you’re trying to help.”

Anyone interested in joining Webster County Crime Stoppers or want more information can contact Terry Cook at 570-6156.

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