Law enforcement officials and the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce are joining forces to revamp Crime Stoppers, the program through which tipsters are paid for providing information that leads to an arrest.
Together they are reorganizing Crime Stoppers 20-member board and assigning more business people to it, said John Blue, who represents the chamber and is the new chairman of the board. Both law enforcement officials and business leaders involved in the venture said they expect the partnership to result in a new model to fund the program, which they say has lost some money.
"I'm not going to say we're running out," said Calhoun County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matthew Wade. "It's not increasing either."
Since the program was founded in 1985 it has been supported with a trust fund, which is set up to generate money. Attempts to find out how much money officials pay out of Crime Stoppers each year and how much the fund holds now were unsuccessful last week.
Blue said the Crime Stoppers board is working to secure support from businesses, local cities and the Calhoun County Commission to sustain the program in the future. Already Anniston and some local businesses have signed on to help out.
"Crime Stoppers historically is very helpful," Blue said. "The business community is very, very interested."
Anyone can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 256-238-1414. If that tip leads to an arrest the caller receives a cash reward.
"We need your information, not your name," said Wade, referencing the program’s slogan.
Wade said each month between 15 and 20 tips are called in to the authorities. Each time the tip is heard by a deputy who relays the information to the appropriate agency.
Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh, a board member, said the realignment is a return to the beginnings of Crime Stoppers. He said that in the beginning of the program, the board comprised several representatives from the business community.
Over time fewer members of the business community remained on the board, which recently has been mostly filled with law enforcement officers.
"It was originally set up to be a business-run model," McVeigh said. "This is just going back to the root of Crime Stoppers."