By Cynthia M. Jeffries
Tupelo High School students now can increase their capital flow while decreasing the amount of crime on their campus.
Crime Stoppers of Northeast Mississippi Inc. introduced a student branch Thursday at the high school. The new program, the first in the state to be initiated on a school campus, is designed to help police curb an increasing number of reports of school-time criminal behavior.
The 10-member student governing board – composed of three 12th-graders, three 11th-graders, two 10th-graders and two-ninth graders – was introduced to the school during an assembly Thursday.
The students won’t be the ones listening to the tips – that’s a job for the police. But the students will set the policies for the program and decide how much money a person can receive for reporting a crime.
Students will share the 1-800-773-TIPS Crime Stoppers number with the core program, said Crime Stoppers Administrator Margaret Cooper. Students can report things like car burglaries, backpack snatchings or drug deals that occur at school or anywhere in the county.
“A lot of students are fearful of reporting things. If they are offered a way that they can do it anonymously, I think it will be a deterrent,” said Tupelo Police Chief Billy White.
Sharonda Norwood, 17, vice president of the newly formed group, and board secretary Brandi Watts, 17, both said they are looking forward to working with the program.
“I am really looking forward to doing the advertising and the filming,” Norwood said.
Just like its parent program, students will reenact a crime of the week that will be shown on the school’s in-house television channel.
Also just like its parent program, tipsters can remain anonymous when reporting something that has occurred on campus. But the students don’t have to limit their tips to school-time offenses.
“If the student can call and remain anonymous, I think it will work better and and will serve as a good deterrent,” said Tupelo High School security officer George Fuller.
For reporting a school-time crime, a student could get up to $100 for information that leads to an arrest. The core program pays up to $1,000.
Cooper and Fuller have been mulling the idea for about a year but did not actually get things swinging until the fall semester, said Sue Shaw Smith, principal of Tupelo High School.