TOTALLY ANONYMOUS

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Board members display the P3 app on their phones. From left are Dr. Carmella Parker, Jay Sharplin, Nicole Gray, Michael Bonnette, Altorio Holden and David Peddy. Not shown are Marvin Blake, Justin Rhodes and Jared Dunahoe, Fundraising Chair. Photo by Juanice Gray

Juanice Gray | Editor

Nine months in the making, law enforcement finally has the tool they need to help solve crimes, CrimeStoppers. “It is the tool law enforcement needs to put in their tool box,” said District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington at a press conference Tuesday, July 6.

Seamless Gutters

Active now, the number to call is 238-2388. Anyone with information should call that number, log on to www.natchitochescrimestsoppers.com or download the free P3 app.

This article published in the July 8, 2021, print edition

“The District Attorney and his office were integral in getting this program started,” said Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. He cited the fact there were 400 shootings resulting in 150 fatalities nationally over the July 4th holiday weekend, with one of those shootings resulting in two injuries in Natchitoches.

“We can’t stop crime, but this is a vital piece of the puzzle…the monetary reward is icing on the cake,” Williams said. “We are sending a clear message that we, along with others, will not tolerate crime.”

Interim Chief of Police Harman Winters stated the CrimeStoppers app, website and phone number would be an asset in solving not only current crimes, but cold cases as well. “It’s an easy number to remember and you’re always anonymous,” he said.

Sheriff Stuart Wright echoed these sentiments. He said when working on a list of cold cases, any minor thing may be what’s needed to connect the dots and provide closure.

Harrington urged the public to make the call. “Call and report (what you know). Those tips leading to an arrest could also provide admissible evidence that can be used in court.”

Carmella Parker, a Texas native and graduate of NSU’s Scholars College, is chair of the all-volunteer board. She said she was grateful to those investing in this program. She outlined the process for submitting tips, and emphasized anonymity. “You call. The operator answers. CrimeStoppers will never ask for any personal info. The caller is given an exclusive Tip ID and password and the information is passed to law enforcement,” she said. “We cannot ever contact the tipster.”

Community members and leaders responsible for instituting CrimeStoppers in Natchitoches are, from left, interim Police Chief Harman Winters, CrimeStoppers Board Secretary Michael Bonnette, City Police liaison Corp. John Greely, NP Sheriff’s Office liaison Capt. Jessie Taitano, Board President Dr. Carmella Parker, Director of Communications Nicole Gray, Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr., Sheriff Stuart Wright, District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, Board Vice-President Jay Sharplin, Board Treasurer David Peddy and Board Member Altorio Holden. The City of Natchitoches invested $40,000 in seed money to get the program going. Other large contributors include Photo by Juanice Gray

When the tipster checks their link and sees an arrest was made, they can use the Tip ID to ultimately get the reward.

Board member and secretary Michael Bonnette, a retired lawyer, became involved in the effort to establish CrimeStoppers after being approached by both Harrington and Wright. He said, “A lot of people know what happens, what’s going on in the streets right now, but they’re just scared to talk to anybody. You know, snitches get stitches, but CrimeStoppers helps.”

Capt. Jessie Taitano is the liaison between the sheriff’s office and the board. Corp. John Greely is the liaison for City Police. “It is 100% anonymous, they’re never going to ask you any personal information. If you download that P3 app you can even have dialogue with a law enforcement officer,” Taitano said. “So it is going to be a great avenue for the public to help us out.”

Need to know

•There is absolutely no caller ID, only a time stamp on the call in the event there are multiple calls with the same information. The first caller is eligible for the reward.

•At no point is any identifying information such as name, address or phone number collected.

•There is no way for CrimeStoppers to contact the tipster

Steps to claiming the reward

•Tipster calls and provides information

•Call taker documents the information.

•Tipster is given an exclusive Tip ID and password.

•Tipster can visit the website or call for updates on the case using the Tip ID and password

•An arrest is made

•CrimeStoppers board will determine the reward

•To receive the reward, the tipster is instructed to go to a designated bank

•Tipster presents the Tip ID and password to a teller and is given the reward in cash