Crimestoppers/Drugbusters has an all-volunteer Board of Directors. These directors come from all walks of life. They are mostly professional people in the community that have seen the value of promoting safer community environments by becoming involved in the Crimestoppers/Drugbusters program. Board members receive no pay for their efforts. All of the fund raising results are used for operational expenses (stationary, envelopes, stamps, telephone, etc.), training expenses (the president-elect is sent to the Crime Stoppers International Conference annually), and the payment of rewards (most of the money goes here). One of the main functions of the Board of Directors is to ensure that sufficient money is available for the payment of rewards. They take this duty very seriously and are actively involved in the various fund raisers conducted throughout the year. They also meet at 8:30 a.m. on the second Thursday of every month to discuss business and receive reports from the Detective assigned to the program. They ensure that the proper amount of rewards have been paid to the appropriate callers.
The Crimestoppers/Drugbusters of Southwest Oklahoma program operates under the bylaws of Crime Stoppers International. This organization grew from the first Crime Stoppers program that was established in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1979. The Lawton board is a member of both Crime Stoppers International and Oklahoma Crime Stoppers. An advantage of being a member of these organizations is the cooperative nature that exists. For instance, if a car is stolen in Wichita Falls, Texas, and the suspects are arrested as a result of a Crime Stoppers tip in Lawton, the Lawton board would pay the reward. The Lawton board would then forward all related documentation to Wichita Falls and would be reimbursed whatever amount they have spent on the reward. If the same scenario is used but the locations are reversed, the process works in reverse and Lawton would reimburse Wichita Falls. If the tip leads to the arrest and charges being filed where a crime is committed where no Crime Stoppers program exists, the Crime Stoppers program receiving the tip is responsible for paying the reward.
One of the questions that often are asked concerns the selection of the crime of the week. The Crime Stoppers / Drug Busters program confines its activities to Southwest Oklahoma. While rewards may be paid for crimes that happen outside its jurisdiction (as illustrated above), crimes of the week are selected only from crimes that happen within the geographical area covered. Although the program is operated by the Lawton Police Department, crimes that occur outside of Lawton are either referred to the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department or other appropriate Law Enforcement jurisdictions. Before a crime of the week is aired, some effort is made to contact the victim and the assigned detective to ensure that the airing will not hamper the investigation. Major unsolved crimes get first priority but consideration is given for mixing the types of crimes to be featured.
Another question centers on the amount of the rewards. Certainly, some crimes are more heinous than others. In keeping with direction from Crime Stoppers International’s guidelines, the Lawton Crime Stoppers program offers a maximum reward of $1,000 (this can be doubled if the caller agrees to testify in court). Because of restrictions that could jeopardize its non-profit tax status, Crime Stoppers cannot accept dedicated money to solve a specific case. For instance, Crimestoppers/Drugbusters could not accept a donation of $10,000 contingent upon it being used to pay for the solving a particular homicide. Occasionally, a business or family will offer a separate reward that may be advertised at the same time that the Crimestoppers/Drugbusters reward is advertised but Crimestoppers/Drugbusters does not guarantee payment of any rewards other than the one Crimestoppers/Drugbusters is offering.
In early 1990, the Lawton Crime Stoppers Board of Directors recognized a need to directly deal with the growing drug problem in Southwest Oklahoma. Realizing that much of the drug problems in neighboring communities spilled over into Lawton, a decision was reached to set up an independent board with a wider base of operation than the corporate city limits of Lawton. Originally, plans were to recruit community leaders from neighboring towns to sit on the Board of Directors with some leaders from Lawton. Efforts to recruit from outside of Lawton were unsuccessful but the commitment to address the growing drug problem remained.
Several Lawton leaders agreed to sit on the first board of directors with the new organization named Drug Busters of Southwest Oklahoma. Funded by a conditional grant from Lawton Crime Stoppers, sufficient money to pay early rewards was deposited in a new account. The organization applied for and received non-profit status from the IRS. They established a geographical limit that included everything in Oklahoma that was west of I-44 and south of I-40. A schedule of payments was determined and the Board incorporated and became operational on April 23, 1990. This board has since melded with the Crime Stoppers board to become the Crimestoppers/Drugbusters board.
The way you report a drug-related crime is similar to that of any other felony crime. Callers are still not asked for their names or identity. However, many people realize that working narcotics investigations is very time-consuming and difficult. “Suspecting” narcotics activity, “knowing” of narcotics activity, and “proving” narcotics activity are three very separate concepts. Many calls are received where citizens suspect their neighbors of being involved in illegal narcotics activities. Most of the time this is based on the amount of people that visit the suspected residence including length of stay, time of day, and frequency. Some of the time, citizens will actually know that there is illegal activity because they have been approached to purchase narcotics or have witnessed the sale of narcotics. Often, there is still hesitancy to reveal any information that would compromise their identity for fear of retaliation. There are others who are not concerned about revealing their identity and are willing to provide information and work directly with investigators to prove their information and receive a larger reward. With these factors in mind, a sliding scale was adopted to accommodate various scenarios.