Crime Line in Isle of Wight challenged by fundraising
Published 11:20 am Saturday, May 21, 2016
Last week, the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office put out a notice that it was seeking Donna Cameron Smith on multiple counts of credit card fraud among many other charges. As an incentive to anyone who knew her whereabouts was the offer of a reward. Within a couple of days of the announcement on TV and in print, an anonymous caller’s tip led to Smith’s capture.
On Monday afternoon, the county crime line’s board of directors indeed voted to pay out some money to the informant. And it was the issue of funds that came up frequently at the meeting in the Smithfield Center.
Raising money to support the crime line in Isle of Wight County remains the biggest challenge, according to Bruce Cobb, one of several volunteers who oversee the program.
“It’s just good for the community,” said Mac Cofer, one of the founders, which formally began in 1992. He added that while the crime line has less money to pay out than other localities, there are fewer crimes in comparison. Out of eight calls over the past year, Cofer said, only four had to be paid out by the board.
Peyton Barlow, who was invited by Cobb to join Crime Line seven or eight years ago, said he helps to solicit donations, but that’s not always successful. He did add, though, that International Paper has “contributed nicely to us.”
Money also comes from a share of the profits from the annual Top Cop dinner this October, and there’s another opportunity through another fundraiser.
Barlow said that while the county crime line does not need what he called “a tremendous amount of money,” nonetheless there are costs for advertising, maintaining phone lines and, of course, paying out rewards.
In order to determine the amount, a region-wide point system was established. For example, a call about a murder that leads to an arrest and prosecution is valued the most at 14 points, which could equate to $975 to $1,000; but a weapons violation is only at 1.5 points, with only $100 to $150 possibly paid out.
Attending the gathering then was Lt. Tommy Potter, an investigator and spokesman for the county Sheriff’s Office. He stressed that the crime line is not a law enforcement organization, but instead a foundation run by the local board of directors with its own bylaws and officers. Everyone who serves does so freely.
On the topic of getting more people to provide tips about crimes or wanted suspects, Potter said the text-friendly TipSoft program, launched in 2015, has been especially helpful.
“A two-way dialogue is invaluable,” he said. Adding to that is his view that TipSoft is not really being fully utilized.
Volpe Boykin, board vice chairman, said he believes that when more young people use it, that feature will take off.
In addition to fundraising, the board always welcomes volunteers. For anyone interested in the crime line program, contact Cobb at 357-9497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.