City celebrates 35 years of Crime Stoppers
Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday celebrated a 35-year effort that has aided in the arrest of more than 11,400 people: the Greater Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers.
While Crime Stoppers in other cities hasn’t always been successful, Henry said, the Fort Wayne group continues to play an essential role in maintaining the community’s quality of life.
“The individuals behind me are passionate about the work they do,” Henry said, referring to a group of 18, most of them wearing red Crime Stoppers shirts. Others included uniformed police.
Henry honored the nonprofit with a proclamation declaring Nov. 15 Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers’ 35th Anniversary Day.
Although part of a national organization, the Greater Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers is operated by local citizens with cooperation from law enforcement. It serves about a dozen counties.
Crime Stoppers has been instrumental in solving crimes, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed said after the ceremony.
The organization, which relies on donations, offers cash rewards up to 500,000.
This year, Crime Stoppers has facilitated 151 arrests and has paid 18 rewards totaling $6,000, according to the third-quarter report.
It can be difficult to find those wanted by police because they move constantly, so it’s a big help to have 300,000 community members watching for the alleged criminals, said Greg Lewis, Crime Stoppers executive director.
Lewis recalled a murder case for which Crime Stoppers received a tip that the suspect was on a bus to Indianapolis.
“He got the biggest surprise of a lifetime” upon arriving in the Circle City, Lewis said.
Reed credited the group’s longevity to its volunteers.
Don Korte was involved with the program when it first dealt with a murder case. Since then, it has helped solve 78 homicides.
“I’m very proud that I was part of the original board,” Korte said.
Volunteers are always welcome, especially for the organization’s two fundraisers : a car show in July and a golf tournament in September, said Jim Riecken, Crime Stoppers chairman. Visit the website, www.crimestoppersfw.org, for more information.