MS Coast Crimestoppers spreads the word about tips

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Do you know you can get paid to help keep your neighborhood crime free? Mississippi Coast Crimestoppers believes not enough people do, so board members are exploring ways to spread the word about the organization.

Mississippi Coast Crimestoppers went inactive for a few years after Hurricane Katrina then kick started again in 2010. Board members worry too few people know about this crime fighting resource is back and ready to serve. Officials said some people may not realize Crimestoppers made some changes when it reorganized two years ago.

"Initially Crimestoppers only paid for a felony conviction," said Mike May, President. "We've got it approved that we pay for felony arrest. So we can pay up to a thousand dollar tip for a felony arrest for a crime when committed but people have to utilize the Crimestoppers tip lines, email, text, and web sites."

Now board members are considering everything from social media to community street signs to try to get the Crimestoppers name embedded in people's minds.

Board Member Ronnie Castille said, "If it's out of sight it's out of mind. If it's in sight and people see it then they remember it. The fact that we can publicize it. The fact that we can put it out in Public Relations or the fact that it's in hard print some place it helps people remember this."

Crimestoppers officials also want law enforcement agencies to remember them. They're asking departments in Harrison, Hancock, George and Jackson counties to encourage citizens who come forward with information about crime to dial the Crimestoppers number.

"We can't pay a tip that's straight to a law enforcement agency because our bylaws specifically state it has to be an anonymous tip," said Castille. "Once that's done the anonymity is gone there is no way that we're going to be able to do that. We would love to pay the tips out. The money in the bank is just money in the bank. It's not going anywhere other than expenditures that we need. To pay the tips is what we're about."

The number for Crimestoppers is 1-877-787-5898. Officials say last month they received nearly 30 crime tips.

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