Help fight crime by calling in tips

With about 720 square miles to cover, it’s no surprise that Fayette County law enforcement officials have welcomed the idea of resurrecting an organization through which citizens can help solve crimes.

The launch of CrimeWatchers was announced earlier this month by Vandalia Police Chief Larry Eason. His office, in conjunction with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments in all county communities, are joining together to operate the program.

Formerly, the county had been a part of the CrimeStoppers program, but it lapsed several years ago because of a lack of activity.

Law enforcement officials in the county came up with their own program – calling it CrimeWatchers – because they felt the previous program had too many rules to follow. Like its predecessor, CrimeWatchers encourages citizens to anonymously provide tips about criminal activity. If those tips eventually lead to an arrest or indictment, the person providing the tip can be paid.

“We have officers that are out on patrol, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time,” Eason said, “so it’s important to have the eyes and ears of citizens in fighting crime.”

He said that being able to report the tip anonymously is a key part of the program. Often, he said, citizens “are afraid of the people who are arrested taking revenge.” Under the CrimeWatchers program, callers are given a tip number. They are asked to periodically check back with the Vandalia Police Department to keep abreast of the case.

When an arrest or indictment is made, the callers will then be paid a reward for the information they provided. Throughout the process, the identity of the recipient will be kept confidential.

If we’re going to solve the problem of crime in our county, it’s going to be the result of a broad-based effort among all citizens. Leaving everything to law-enforcement authorities alone simply doesn’t give them the necessary tools to observe and fight criminal activity.

Be part of the solution. Get involved when you see suspicious or illegal activity. It’s as easy as making a phone call. Just dial 283-1986. And you don’t have to give your name.

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