Wichita Falls_Police officers from across the entire state of Texas met in Wichita Falls for the state's 20th Annual Crimestoppers' Convention. Organizers say it's a chance to rally support for their programs, and to learn tricks of the trade from other departments.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot delivered the keynote address on Wednesday morning, and applauded the officers on their efforts to combat crime. He also issued challenges to Texas school districts. Abbot travelled from Paris, Texas, to attend the convention. Last year, his Crimestoppers program helped recover $98,000 in stolen property - and that was just in one Texas county.
Crime happens everywhere, but solving crimes is not always an easy task. Police can hit roadblocks when witnesses deny seeing something, or deny association to someone accused of committing a crime. "There's a lot of people who will not talk to police," says Paris Police Officer Matt Birch. "But in the process they're calling Crimestoppers, and we're still getting the information to law enforcement."
Of course there sometimes is a price police have to pay to get information - a cash reward for tipsters. For some, it becomes a routine way to earn extra money. "You build a rapport with them," says Birch. "You don't know who they are, but when they call you, you know their information is good." Paying cash to solve crimes is how Crimestoppers programs survive. Businesses say they offer the reward without hesitation, and that the result is well worth it. "I've lived in this country all my life, and I just like to make it the best community to live in," says Birch. The Crimestoppers convention runs through Friday.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is in the middle of a statewide campaign to increase security on school campuses. He says all school districts in the state are required to have a campus security audit completed by August 31. He says some districts believe it's going to cost a lot of money, but he says it's really just a matter of proper planning. "The reality is, it doesn't really cost very much money to get a plan in place. It's just going to require time and effort by educators and administrators to develop this plan."