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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crime Stoppers To Get Help From Mayor, Cans For Kids

Timing of a request for funding prevented the City of Peshtigo from making a contribution to Crime Stoppers this year, but it appears they will get some money from Peshtigo anyway. The good news came after a report by Marinette County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Miller at the Peshtigo City Council meeting Tuesday evening, March 5.

Miller, one of three county deputies closely involved with the Crime Stoppers program, reported on the good the organization does, the rewards they pay for arrests leading to convictions, and loss of state funding due to a recent Supreme Court decision. The Council’s Finance Committee had recommended that the city not contribute this year, since the request came in long past budget time, and money is already tight.

After hearing the report, and agreeing with the decision not to take money from budget reserves, Mayor Al Krizenesky declared he personally will make a donation this year in place of one from the city. And he promised to ask Police Chief Kent Kline to put a Crime Stoppers allocation in his law enforcement budget for next year. “I love that program,” Krizenesky declared.

Alderman Mary Lock, who is an active promoter and benefactor of the “Cans For Kids” program in Peshtigo, then said she would see that a check from that organization goes out to Crime Stoppers on behalf of Peshtigo as well.

Finance Committee Chair Mike Behnke said he and his fellow committee members also realize the importance of Crime Stoppers, but felt they should make a contribution part of the future budget, not one that is already enacted.

At their meeting on Monday, Feb. 25, the Finance Committee had decided there should be no donation this year from the city, and had asked for more information, including a summary of revenues, expenses and revenue sources. The Committee also asked that any future requests for funds should be received in September, when the budget is being prepared.

At the start of his report, Miller said he realized the city could not allocate any money this year, but he wanted to tell them what Crime Stoppers is and what it does. He is well acquainted with Peshtigo, since he had worked as a part time police officer for the city for 10 years. He now is one of three Marinette County Deputies assigned to work as a liaison with Crime Stoppers. The other two are deputies Gary Temple, Jr. and Fred Popp.

Assistant Peshtigo Police Chief Jared Phillips is now on the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors, and more and more police officers throughout the county are becoming involved, Miller said. Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that partners with law enforcement agencies to resolve crimes and apprehend criminals. They offer rewards for information that leads to arrests and convictions. Anonymity of those who provide the tips and collect the rewards is protected. Since its inception in July of 1991, Crime Stoppers has recovered $38,744.95 in stolen property, $305,889 in narcotics, and paid out $15,195 in rewards. Over 245 arrests have been made as a direct result of a Crime Stopper tip.

They formerly received $50 from the Wisconsin Court system for each criminal conviction, but due to a recent state Supreme Court decision, that payment has stopped, so they need other sources of funds for their programs.

Miller said after Crime Stoppers officers attended a recent conference they made some big changes in the way information is handled. They got rid of their answering machine and signed on with a Texas-based answering service through which a live operator takes calls 24/7. He explained Texas has some good confidentiality laws, which is why that choice was made. When a tip is received by the answering service the information is sent to Canada and then back to the local Crime Stopper officer immediately. Miller said he receives tip information instantly via his I-phone, also 24/7.

Crime Stoppers operates a Quick Tip 50 program in all Marinette County high schools, Miller said. He explained the program was in place at Marinette High School for more than a decade, then was expanded to Peshtigo last year, and now has been taken into every school district.

The Quick Tip 50 Program offers a $15 reward for all drug related information and $25 for information that leads to arrests for other crimes.

They recently purchased a computer program called “Text-A-Tip” that allows them to get anonymous tips via text messaging, an idea that he said “really took off in a world where nobody talks any more except with their thumbs.”

A recent $5,000 donation from Stephenson National Bank enabled them to buy their new computer system, Miller said. Individuals and businesses donate to help keep the program going.

He said people in Menominee are interested in joining efforts with Crime Stoppers of Marinette County, Inc., and are currently forming a board of directors for a joint effort group. Miller said Crime Stoppers recently paid a Quick Tip 50 reward for a call related to a bomb threat at Menominee High School. “We thought it was important enough, even though it was outside our area,” Miller commented.

Behnke asked what they would do if the program proves so successful that there isn’t enough money to pay the promised rewards for all the tips that come in. Miller said a similar organization in a county south of here had been so successful that it went bankrupt because so many tips were coming in. He indicated they will be seeking more donations if that should happen here.

“We all realize how important this program is and even though it wasn’t in the budget, we want to participate with you in the future,” Behnke told Miller. He said he will ask Kline to put it in his budget for next year and the years after that.

The only other speaker during time for public comment was District Attorney Allen Brey, who is running for election as Marinette County Circuit Judge in the April 2 election. The post was vacated when Judge Tim Duket retired and Judge James Morrison, who Brey is challenging in the election, was appointed to take his place.

Brey said he started working for the Marinette County District Attorney’s office exactly 20 years ago - on the first Monday in March of 1993. He has been District Attorney for the past four years.

Brey said whether acting as District Attorney or as Judge decisions need to be made for the benefit of the people of the community.


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