Northampton starts Crimestoppers program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2004

JACKSON – Criminals beware, the law enforcement agencies in Northampton County just got larger in number by the addition of the newly formed Northampton County Crimestoppers, Inc.

Taking some well-needed advice from Ralph Johnson, former coordinator and a spokesperson from the Halifax County Crimestoppers, the group met for the second time Wednesday night to elect officers and begin the next steps to getting organized.

Brenda Burnett, a detective with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, worked to create the group and acts now as the coordinator.

&uot;I have a really good feeling about this,&uot; said Burnett. &uot;The response already has been very positive and I feel good about the board members that were elected as officers this week.

&uot;We’ve got some work to do, getting set up, but I feel like we’re going to be up and running by the first of the year,&uot; she added.

The Northampton County Crimestoppers Board is made up of 14 citizens throughout the county as well as each police chief from each town throughout the county.

The Board members elected Wednesday are Otis Wheeler, chairperson; Don Johnson, vice-chairperson; Ricky Majjette, treasurer; and Luther Culpepper, secretary.

Culpepper will also serve as the group’s legal advisor and is currently working to write up the bylaws and that is expected to be ready by the time the Board meets again in January.

From then, the Board will meet once each month on the third Tuesday.

&uot;I think is very important that the citizens in the county understand the difference between Crimestoppers and the old Citizens Watch that was very successful many years ago,&uot; Wheeler stated.

&uot;With the Citizens Watch, people actually worked with radios to monitor activity in and around the various communities, and reported anything suspicious to law enforcement.

&uot;With Crimestoppers, we are included every single person in this county and beyond to report information to law enforcement and that information can be reported confidentially without any ever knowing who, when or what they reported,&uot; he added.

Once the program is up and running, there will be a designated number that citizens can call. They will talk to a person, but will be given a number. From that moment on, they will be referred to as that number and no names, addresses or phone numbers are ever revealed to anyone.

If the information provided leads to solving a case or the arrest of an individual wanted by law enforcement in Northampton County, the person could be rewarded money set up by and through the Crimestoppers Board.

&uot;This is why this is so vital to the county,&uot; Burnett said. &uot;In many cases, there’s someone out there who sees something or hears something, but they are scared to come forward with the information.

&uot;They might be afraid someone is going to retaliate against them for telling, or they might just not want their name mentioned because they feel like they may end up in court or have to go in for questioning themselves.

&uot;This gives the citizens of the county, and elsewhere for that matter, a way of providing law enforcement officers with vital information that may very well be the information needed to solve the case… and they do not have to reveal who they are,&uot; she said.

The Crimestoppers number will be publicized in both local newspaper, the Daily Herald out of Roanoke Rapids and the R-C News-Herald out of Jackson and Ahoskie.

&uot;You can’t get the information out enough,&uot; Johnson told the group Wednesday night. &uot;The more you get that number out, the better you are. You might even consider having business cards printed up with the number on it and giving them to every law enforcement officer in the county.

&uot;When they are out at a crime scene or interviewing people in the communities, they can reach in their pocket and hand a person one of those cards and tell them if they hear or see anything, give them a call,&uot; he added.

Johnson said, from his past experience with the developing of the Halifax County Crimestoppers just over five years ago, people will come much closer to talking later than right that minute. &uot;Give them a little time to get away from other people, or to think about a situation that has happened, and lots of time – not always – but lots of times, they’ll think to themselves, ‘I really should tell somebody this or that,’&uot; he said.

The Crimestoppers Board does have some start up funding for rewards, but the group agreed they needed to start looking for donation from throughout the county.

&uot;All donations made to Crimestoppers is tax deductible,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;You need to get out and see businesses, individuals, hold some barbecue chicken dinners or whatever you can do to begin raising some funds to make this work.&uot;

Anyone who would like more information about Crimestoppers or who would like to make a donation to help get this program off the ground, can call Det. Burnett at 252-534-2611.