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Junior Crime Stoppers program launches at FHS
WILLIAM J. GIBBS JR./Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com
Floresville High School Junior Crime Stoppers board President Katie Smith (right) joins advisors George Ramsdell and Debralee Bloemer in displaying one of several posters urging students to submit tips to the program.
FLORESVILLE -- The growing popularity of Crime Stoppers of Wilson County has inspired a new generation of citizen crime fighters to join in the effort of improving life in the community.
Floresville High School is the first of Wilson County’s high schools to establish a Junior Crime Stoppers program. The pilot program offers students a way to report crimes on and off campus.
“Anonymity is the key,” said paraprofessional teacher George Ramsdell, who is an advisor for the Junior Crime Stoppers.
Retired Texas Ranger Marrie Aldridge is the board president of Wilson County Crime Stoppers. She reminds tipsters that Crime Stoppers calls are answered offsite, just like Web tips and text messages. Tips obtained via text or the Web also are encrypted, meaning that information related to their source remains confidential.
“[The tipster] will never be called to court because [the police] never know who they are,” Aldridge said. “If anybody ever finds out who did it, it’s because [the tipster] told.”
Bud Box, principal of the Floresville Alternative Education Center, said the county’s Crime Stoppers board is sponsoring Floresville’s Junior Crime Stoppers group. The board has allocated startup funds and stipends for teachers who are willing to serve as advisors. Aldridge said she and fellow board member Gene Stanush hope to one day have programs in all four of the county’s districts.
Floresville High School Technology Coordinator Debralee Bloemer also serves as an advisor for the school’s Crime Stoppers program. She said the board, which includes members of the Student Council, will operate in the same manner as the county’s board. She hopes Floresville’s program can work in tandem with the school’s participation in the StayALERT School Safety Program, which accepts anonymous tips about on- campus crime. This program was credited with the March 1 arrest of 18-year-old student Michael Parra, a reputed drug dealer.
Unlike StayALERT, however, Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests.
Junior Crime Stoppers board President Katie Smith, a junior, sees both programs as a way of striking back against drug use among her peers. Despite drugs being what she views as the most pervasive student crime, Smith thinks that a lot of students are reluctant to speak up because of fears of being ostracized or retaliated against.
“Sometimes it’s your friends,” she said. “It’s hard to tell on your friends, even if they’re doing something bad.”
Junior Crime Stoppers is seeking financial support from the community. Anyone interested in supporting the program is asked to call Ramsdell or Bloemer at 830-393-5370.
Students and residents of all ages are invited to report crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers of Wilson County in one of three ways:
•Phone: 830-393-INFO (4636)
•Text message: Send the word “MONEY” along with your tip to 274637.
Tips resulting in an arrest are eligible for a cash reward.
In case of an emergency, dial 911.
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