Success with a Yakima-area high school Crime Stoppers program means the effort is making its way into high schools here in the Lower Valley.
That's according to David Purcell, president of Yakima County Crime Stoppers. He noted a program at Eisenhower High School has cut down on graffiti by 95 to 100 percent. "The kids are aware they can be turned in, they are aware of kids that were picked up because of tips," says Purcell.
He says the neighborhood around Ike has also become safer, with break-ins and other property crimes on the decline
Now the focus is on expanding the reach to a Crime Stoppers program in Granger and Grandview high schools.
Much like the typical Crime Stopper program, Purcell says it relies on anonymous tips - except the focus is on a high school campus area. He says tips can range anywhere from smoking on campus to misdemeanors to drugs or weapons.
"It's a way for kids to report these things without retaliation," Purcell says.
He says students phoning or texting into the Crime Stopper hotline are issued a code number that they can later use anonymously to check on the status of their tip and/or to see if a cash reward is pending at a local bank.
"We don't take personal information," Purcell emphasizes.
Misdemeanors, he says, pay out anywhere from $10 to $100 per successfully investigated tip.
Misdemeanor tips, Purcell adds, are paid out by school districts, while tips that result in felony convictions range from $100 to $1,000 and are paid out by the Crime Stoppers program.
He notes some misdemeanors phoned in at Ike ended up being felony cases.
"It's amazing how many went from being a misdemeanor to something bigger, like weapons," Purcell notes.
Within the first three months after it went into operation at Ike, there were 85 tips phoned in by high school students, Purcell claimed.
"The bottom line is to make school a safer place," he added.
Purcell said Crime Stoppers will be set up at Grandview and Granger high schools as soon as the non-profit gets software and a phone line in place, as well as bank accounts set up to pay for successful tips.
He noted the Sunnyside School Board has expressed interest in bringing the program here, but there has been a delay because the school district is minus an SRO.
That was confirmed by school district spokesman Curtis Campbell.
"We're still moving forward, but it's slower than we'd like because of being down an SRO," says Campbell. "Hopefully within a month we'll have the specifics set up."