Student Crime Stoppers continues winning ways

Now in its 18th year, the Odessa Student Crime Stoppers Program has been a perennial winner at state competitions.
This year, the program won the productivity award for a county population its size for the state of Texas, Superintendent Tom Crowe won the administrator of the year laurel and the program won the traveling trophy based on students’ participation, their willingness to take part, their manners and the way they conducted themselves at the recent state conference in Paris, Texas.
“Every conference they have a group of judges and nobody knows who the judges are. They’re selected different every year and they monitor who’s helping out and see how the students are acting. We are the only Crime Stoppers program in the state of Texas to have ever won that twice and now we’ve won it three times, so we’re kind of in a league of our own. Our students do a really good job,” ECISD Lt. Jeff Daniels said.
He added that the Productivity Award recognizes that Odessa Student Crime Stoppers has cleared more cases than other programs its size and retrieved large dollar amounts in terms of recovered items.
Daniels said the organization has 16 board members. The goal is to get a student from every middle and high school campus.
“We kind of stick to the same rules as other campus programs – sports, band – things like that so they’ve got to keep their grades up. They’ve got to be in attendance. They can’t have any discipline issues. … We might lose one or two over the span of five or 10 years. Usually the kids we select are really good kids and stay in the program throughout their years with ECISD,” Daniels said.
Currently, the program is at the middle and high schools, but it serves all ECISD campuses.
All schools run Odessa Student Crime Stoppers announcements and every campus is eligible for rewards, Daniels said.
The student board meets the first Wednesday of every month. “We oversee them, as in we host the meeting, but we have a student board and we have a president, a vice president, a secretary and a sergeant of arms and they are students and they run the meeting part,” Daniels said.
The board determines the rewards from anonymous tips. Typically, they are anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on the crime. More is paid for serious offenses, Daniels said.
Odessa Crime Stoppers Executive Director Susan Rogers said if someone is placed on probation for a Class C or higher offense, as part of their probation, they have to pay a fee to Crime Stoppers of up to $50.
“We’ve gotten a lot of successful tips. What’s really been beneficial here lately is we’ve created a Facebook page for Student Crime Stoppers and we are posting crimes on it and receiving tips from there,” Daniels said.
The Facebook page has been up for about a year, and as much as possible, it is student run, Daniels said. The ECISD police don’t have a Facebook page yet, but he said it’s coming. The majority of items go on the ECISD Facebook page.
“We just have to oversee what they’re putting up. The times that information comes in sometimes they’re not around to upload the information so we’ll do it,” he added.
Daniels noted that Odessa Student Crime Stoppers is an integral part of solving offenses around the district.
“We’re lucky because we’ve had the program so long,” he added. “It’s kind of ingrained in the students out there. They know it’s available as a tool for them to help keep their campus safe.”
Rogers noted that if people get used to reporting to Crime Stoppers from an early age, it will become a habit as an adult. She added that Odessa Student Crime Stoppers program is under the umbrella of Odessa Crime Stoppers and provides training and support for coordinators on campus, who are police officers.
Abigail Callendar and William McGilvray, both 17, are on the Student Crime Stoppers board. Callendar is a junior at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa and McGilvray is a senior at Odessa High School.
Callendar is in her second year with the group and McGilvray has served four years with the organization. Both Callendar and McGilvray’s fathers work for the ECISD police.
Callendar said she joined Student Crime Stoppers as a way to give back to the community.
“I personally love it,” Callendar said. She said growing up around law enforcement let her hear how things are, not just what people get from the media.
She added that the program has been more hands-on than she was expecting.
McGilvray said his father told him about Student Crime Stoppers and he decided to get involved because it seemed like a good way to make a difference in the schools.
“It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” he said of the program. “It was actually a little more than what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was just a bunch of cops’ kids talking together, (but) you get involved in the community (and attend) conferences.”
McGilvray said winning the awards lets everyone in the state know what district the students are from and that’s a good feeling.
Callendar said two ways Student Crime Stoppers reaches out to schools is PSAs and posters.
“We do a poster competition every year. We get to give those back to our schools and show them and it’s kind of like a reminder to the students,” she said.
Student Crime Stoppers also partners with other organizations to raise funds to feed students and pay for conference fees, Daniels said.