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Crime Stoppers: Starting at a young age

The Crime Stoppers are making themselves a force to be reckoned with in Suffolk high schools.

The Crime Stoppers, a “junior Crime Line” of sorts, work in the schools in conjunction with the teachers, administration and the school resource officers to promote a safe learning environment. The Crime Stoppers are regular students who are motivated to be leaders in their schools and communities. Along with their schoolwork and other activities, they also work with school resource officers on cases that are reported to them.

“Not a day goes by when we’re not working on something,” said Tyron Riddick, the president of King’s Fork High School’s Crime Stoppers. “We have an inside source and nobody knows who is leaking out the information, so crime has deteriorated.”

Crime Stoppers is a student club in place at three Suffolk high schools n King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River. The students are the eyes and ears for the police when the school resource officer can’t be there.

Suffolk Police Department Senior Officer Tyrell Champagne, school resource officer at King’s Fork High School, said that the students in the schools are a valuable resource.

Recently, a student helped in an arrest by making the assistant principal aware of a possible drug deal occurring in a classroom, Champagne said. It turned out the student did have illegal drugs, and the student who reported it was given a reward, the officer said.

The rewards come from the funds of the Crime Stoppers, which raises money with various activities throughout the year. The rewards, which cannot be cash due to school policies, are usually in the form of a Wal-Mart gift card, said Champagne. The Crime Stoppers vote on how much the reward should be.

At times, students turn down rewards because they believe it’s the right thing to do to report the crime, Champagne said. At Lakeland High School, two out of the four rewards in the past year were declined.

The Crime Stoppers raise the money in the schools through many creative programs. At King’s Fork, the Crime Stoppers held a student vs. staff basketball game last year, and raised almost $400 at $1 per ticket, Champagne said. This year, they may try to do two games, plus a car wash and other activities.

In addition to being the head of the Crime Stoppers at the school, Champagne said he tries to educate all the students as an attempt at preventing crime.

“Take disorderly conduct,” Champagne said. “A lot of kids don’t know what disorderly conduct is until they get arrested for it, and by then it’s too late. We want to teach them before it happens. If you know it’s against the law, you might make wiser decisions.”

Vernon Towler, the president of the Crime Line board, said that the student participation is impressive.

“I commend the students on taking command and taking a leadership position,” Towler said. “It’s hard to affiliate yourself with such an organization as this, and I commend you for doing so.”

tracy.agnew@suffolknewsherald.com