Crime

Harrison County joins rest of Coast, decides to pay for Crime Stoppers

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDTroy Peterson wants Harrison County patrol officers to get a six percent raise which would put their salaries between wha Biloxi and Gulfport patrol officers make, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDTroy Peterson wants Harrison County patrol officers to get a six percent raise which would put their salaries between wha Biloxi and Gulfport patrol officers make, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.

Got a tip? The Harrison County Sheriff's Department often gets them, but until now, the county hasn't been paying for the information.

That changed Monday when the board of supervisors voted to put a surcharge on all moving violation fines in the county. The $2 surcharge will help fund the Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers fund.

"We're the middle man for law enforcement. We often get tips in Harrison County," Coast Crime Stopper Coordinator Lori Massey said. "As you know, criminals know no boundaries. If they steal a car in Jackson County, they could drive to Harrison County. We need to have one Coast Crime Stoppers fighting the criminals," she said.

Until now, Harrison County was the only Coast locality not paying into the program.

The surcharge will come from existing moving violation fines, Massey said. Fines will not go up, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson made clear.

Money collected will be put into the Crime Stoppers fund, which is used to offer rewards and for operational expenses.

Part of the program involves visiting schools to spread the word about the program, Massey said.

"We don't know if the tipster calling in is a student or a parent, so getting the information about us out there is important," she said.

Massey touted the success of the program in Harrison County.

Tips have led to the apprehension of several suspects, including those involving in an armed robbery, bank robbery and credit card fraud.

One call from a tipster garnered several leads, she said.

"Just an example of how it works: Friday, I received a tip. This tip tells the suspect's name and address, that they go to a doctor who writes a prescription for them and all their friends. This person also gets meth from another person. I have a name of the person who supplies and meth and the cook. These are all Harrison county residents. That, of course, was given to the sheriffs department," she said.

"It makes sense," Peterson said. "They do us more good than we do them. And it's a good way to bring all law enforcement agencies together and keep them informed of all that's going on."

Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for a tip that leads to a felony arrest or indictment. Tipsters can remain anonymous, even while collecting a cash award with the use of a code at a designated bank drive-thru.

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