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November 22 12:00 PM

Bossier Crime Stoppers seeks to expand

Inquisitor News

Bossier Parish Crime Stoppers is taking steps to make itself more prevalent to the citizenry of Bossier City and Bossier Parish.

At a press conference Tuesday, Mark Natale, public information officer for the Bossier City Police Department, said, “You’re going to start seeing more of Bossier Crime Stoppers in the community. Also, Bossier Crime Stoppers is making an effort to be more involved in Bossier schools by teaching kids public safety lessons, things to do, how to call 911, those sorts of things.

“The bottom line is just to get Bossier Crime Stoppers out there, get that number out there and generate more tips.”

Detective Brandon Huckaby, coordinator for Bossier Crime Stoppers, said that, as an investigator for Bossier City, the biggest problem he encounters at a major crime scene is reluctance on the part of the public to report anything about the crime. “They’re scared,” he said. “They don’t want to be seen talking to the police because they’re scared, maybe, of the suspect’s family or somebody that might hold that against them.

“Crime Stoppers is the best way in the world not to do that. You can call 424-4100. It’s a local number, but it’s answered by a call center in Houston. There are trained officials that answer the phone and take the information. The only ID that we get from you, they give you an ID number. That ID number is specific to your incident, and that’s how you claim your reward.

“Once that call is taken, it’s transcribed and sent to me. It’s completely anonymous.”

Going into the schools is just another way of letting people know of Bossier Crime Stoppers and how it can be beneficial to helping solve crimes.

Natale said Crime Stoppers also plans to be more involved in community events. “A lot of times both the sheriff’s office and the police department get asked to participate in different activities like down at the Boardwalk or elsewhere,” where police might hand out public safety information. “Brandon’s going to be a part of that, as well,” Natale said.

“I’m very honored to be able to do this for the sheriff and the chief,” Huckaby said.

Since Bossier Crime Stoppers’ Web site went online about three years ago, Natale said, the program has paid out more than $15,000 in rewards.

Recently, a tip to Bossier Crime Stoppers led to the arrest of Shawntell Roberson Eppinett and her accomplice, Joseph John Pomares. Eppinett was ar rested after she was identified via surveillance footage of a woman stealing a purse from a shopper at Wal-Mart and using the victim’s credit card to make unauthorized purchases.

Natale said that since Det. Huckaby has taken over as coordinator, tips have approximately doubled. Huckaby said when he took over in July, Crime Stoppers received about 10 to 15 tips a month. That number has increased to about 25 a month.

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said, “Crime Stoppers has been proven as an effective crimefighting tool, and to have the money in the bank, which we do, and not utilize it or maximize it makes no sense. So the purpose today is to get the word out (that) Crime Stoppers is available. Call the number. We’ve got money, we want to give it away. So utilize it.”

Tips can be made to Bossier Crime Stoppers by calling 424- 4100 or online at bossiercrime stoppers.org.

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