Back from the brink

East Kootenay Crime Stoppers has experienced a revival just as it was on the verge of closing down

Family members have put up signs seeking information about the Mayook double murder

Family members have put up signs seeking information about the Mayook double murder

Back in April, Crime Stoppers made a desperate plea to East Kootenay residents. Its long-standing, hard-working board was burnt out. Without new volunteer board directors, the vital crime-fighting non-profit would collapse.

Well, the East Kootenay sat up and paid attention.

“The community listened and read about what was about to happen to our long standing program,” said civilian coordinator Eric Ausman. “Many, many citizens of the community stepped up, responding and inquiring what they could do to ensure our program could continue, as they believed in the program’s objective to make our community a safer community.”

Now, Crime Stoppers has a new board of directors.

“From those many responses, good citizens stepped forward to champion the program and the past board voted to retract their letter to dissolve the society. The society is again in good order as a full board is now in place and registered under the BC Society Act,” said Ausman.

The new board consists of: Dawn Simon, chair; Cecilia Teneese, vice chair; Theresa Neufeld, treasurer; Colleen Hedin, secretary; directors Lars Noack and Jim Kinsman; and members Len Sullivan, Barbara Jarrett and Karen McGregor.

Crime Stoppers is a community-based volunteer organization, completely independent of the RCMP.

It gives people the opportunity to anonymously provide information that could help solve a crime.

Without Crime Stoppers, most of those tips would never get to police, because many people don’t feel safe talking directly to the RCMP.

Since it formed in 1991, Crime Stoppers has received 1,795 tips in the East Kootenay. Those tips have resulted in 144 arrests, 188 cases cleared, and $3.9 million in drugs seized.

Al Sismey, a member of the B.C. Crime Stoppers Advisory Board, said he is grateful that the East Kootenay rallied around the struggling group.

“I am very excited to have been a very small part in helping to resurrect the East Kootenay Crime Stoppers program. It would have been a terrible loss to your area to lose what has become the best crime-fighting tool the police have access to at a cost that is very minimal for all the communities serviced after being in existence for over 21 years. The real accolades go to the community folks that have stepped forward and committed their time to ensure Crime Stoppers remains in the forefront in the fight against crime in the East Kootenay region. On behalf of the B.C. Crime Stoppers my sincere thanks and appreciation to all involved who participated in making this happen.”

Since the new board first came together, Ausman said they have been working hard to get back to operating capacity.

“The most important thing was to bring the board up to speed. We’ve had several extra meetings to accommodate that. We are actually still in the transition phase, though we are almost through it,” he said.

To help raise money for the non-profit, Crime Stoppers has launched a fundraising campaign.

Canvassers will be selling coupon books that offer discounts and savings at East Kootenay businesses.

“Canvassers are now out going door-to-door; they have bright orange jackets with the 4 Elements logo on the right side and “Crime Stoppers Fundraiser” on the left side. If you are still wary of them, by all means ask for identification. The canvassers carry proper ID with them at all times,” said Ausman.

“You can support your local Crime Stoppers program with the purchase of the certificate package that offers great discounts on products and services from our local Crime Stoppers sponsors,” he said.

The coupon card, with tax, sells for $28 and canvassers have the technology to accept debit cards at the door.

East Kootenay Crime Stoppers’ last campaign raised approximately $13,000 for the program. This will be the third time the program has been run in the East Kootenay.

“This is an important source of revenue for our program,” said Ausman. “It’s one of the ways that we pay for rewards and run our program.”

If you have information about a potential crime, you can contact East Kootenay Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS, or visit www.cintek.com/crimestoppers.