By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON —
In operation for nearly 30 years, a local organization has been chosen to host a state convention in 2015.
Jefferson County Crimestoppers, established in 1984, was recently informed that it will host the state’s Crimestoppers annual convention during the first weekend in May 2015.
State Crimestoppers conventions will be held this year in Peoria and next year in Quincy.
“We’re the most active unit in this part of the state and the state coordinator [Bill Nation] thought it would be a good idea for us to host the state convention,” said Jefferson County Crimestoppers President Richard Endsley. There are only three other Crimestoppers organizations in Southern Illinois — in Marion, Carbondale and O’Fallon.
Endsley said the local organization didn’t even attend the state convention until about four years ago when he became president. Endsley said he mentioned to Nation that the local organization might be interested in hosting the state meeting. The local group approved hosting the state convention at a monthly meeting this past summer, Endsley said.
“We’re going to have to put a lot of work into it,” Endsley said. “I’m sure there are a lot of doubters up north about what we can do down here, and I’m concerned about the amount of miles the people have to drive to come here since 80 percent of the chapters are north of Effingham.”
The state convention officially starts on Thursday night with registration and a social event, although a daytime golf outing is usually held on that day. Endsley said seminars and meetings are scheduled on Friday, followed by a banquet that evening when annual awards are presented.
Endsley was presented with a director’s award, and local coordinator Sharon Martin of the Mt. Police Department was presented at the 2012 convention.
Endsley said the local organization is awaiting for a state convention packet from Nation before proceeding with plans. Standing committees have been organized to help plan the event.
“Our most urgent need right now is to find a central location and to coordinate the meals,” Endsley said. “There are a lot of small details to work out.”
Since its inception, the Jefferson County Crimestoppers have received 3,862 tips from the public, resulting in 256 arrests and 439 cases have been solved. Law enforcement officials have recovered $911,568 in stolen property and the organization has paid out $39,000 in rewards to citizens who have provided tips on the local hotline 242-TIPS.
This past year, the organization launched a “Watchdog Quarterly” publication that includes photographs of the county’s “most wanted” criminals, or suspects being sought on active warrants. Endsley said community feedback of the publication has been “very positive.”