To the Editor:
Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Wisconsin corporation governed by a board of directors of 11 Lincoln County citizens. Its sole purpose is to assist law enforcement by providing an anonymous tip line as an alternative for people otherwise reluctant to provide information. Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County was established in December 1997. Since that time, 779 calls have been received leading to 137 arrests and recovery of $37,950 in property. Ninety-seven awards totaling $13,950 have been authorized (not all are collected by tipsters not interested in rewards.)
Until recently, Crime Stoppers' primary source of funding, in accordance with state law, was court-ordered contributions by offenders assessed by Lincoln County and visiting judges at sentencings, in effect a "user fee" by those involved in the system.
Just over a year ago an order was entered by Chief Judge Dorothy Bain, Ninth Judicial District, prohibiting judges in this district from ordering donations to all Crime Prevention Organizations. This is the only district in the state with such an order, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2005. It is noted that this has nothing to do with Crime Stoppers as a Crime Prevention Organization; State Attorney General's and national Crime Stoppers' legal advisors' opinions confirm this legality. With its primary funding source gone, since Jan. 1 Crime Stoppers' fund balance has steadily dwindled while efforts were ongoing to try to change the court's position.
To continue this valuable public service, Crime Stoppers' board of directors must find alternative funding. In upcoming days a fund raising plan for Crime Stoppers will be decided and announced publicly. We take this step reluctantly, because we realize there are many worthy causes needing funding. We hope the public agrees with the continued need for this program.
Copies of this letter are being sent to media sources throughout this judicial district. While readers in other communities might not identify with Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County, they should realize that this same situation applies to all Crime Prevention Organizations in their communities.
Board of Directors,
Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County, Inc.
David Jackson, president
William Frank, vice president
Dawn Young, secretary
Jeffrey West, treasurer