By Jay Meisel
TREASURE COAST - Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers may be able to offer larger rewards in heinous crime cases and increase its crime prevention efforts as a result of help from local law enforcement agencies, its director said last week.
Ed Glaser, executive director of Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers, said the organization requested help from the agencies to supplement funding from the State Attorney General's Office.
At the regular Crime Stoppers meeting on March 30, Crime Stoppers received $3,500 from Port St. Lucie Police Chief Brian Reuther, $1,000 from Martin County Sheriff Robert L. Crowder and $2,500 from Sgt. Rick Vidiri, who represented Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.
Mr. Glaser said he's hoping other law enforcement agencies also will provide help.
The monies came from asset forfeiture funds and not tax dollars, Mr. Glaser said.
Money from the seizure and sale of a car in a drug case, for example, would go into the asset forfeiture fund.
Mr. Glaser said Crime Stoppers receives portions of fines levied in criminal cases from the state. But the money available from that varies depending on people paying their fines, he said.
Last year, Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers received $142,000.
Between 50 percent and 55 percent of those funds are used for rewards, he said.
Last month alone, the organization received more than 100 tips that resulted in 20 arrests, 27 cases being cleared and 42 charges being filed, he said.
More than $3,000 in rewards were approved, he said.
Sheriff Crowder said those types of results are why he believes it is worthwhile to support Crime Stoppers.
"It's been an asset to law enforcement, having the capability to receive tips anonymously and forward tips to law enforcement," Sheriff Crowder said.
Without that help, some cases may not have been solved, he said.
Sheriff Crowder said he's been involved with Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers since it began in 1985.
At the time, he said, he was chief deputy to former St. Lucie County Sheriff Bobby Knowles, who organized it.
Sheriff Crowder said for years a local network television station helped in fundraising efforts. But when that station lost its network affiliation, other ways of raising money were needed.