The Clay County Sheriff's Office and Spencer Police Department attempt to protect and serve the communities they serve to the best of their abilities; but they, by their own admission, can't do it all. That's where the community-driven Crime Stoppers program comes into play.
Crime Stoppers is set up so anyone can call or text information to either department. These tips have led to cases being resolved, arrests being made and property being recovered and returned. One tip led to the seizure of more than 40 pounds of marijuana and $20,000 in cash, as well as arrests.
Tips that are phoned in or sent via text message - Text-A-Tip - are anonymous. Not even the police chief knows who is calling or sending in the text according to Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson.
"Our job is to create less work for ourselves and we need the community to help us with that," Lawson said.
Anonymous tips are "very useful and beneficial," according to Lawson.
Text-A-Tip has received 67 tips, two of which resulted in rewards for those providing information. A homicide suspect was found because of a tip that was sent in via text.
Rewards for tips usually range from $25 to $100, depending on what the information is, according to Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow.
It might take some time for an investigator to look over the tips, so the public is discouraged from using the text route if the situation is an emergency.
"But if you see something, call it in," Krukow said.
An appointed representative checks the tips daily, and if a tip is sent via text message, law enforcement can respond if necessary to seek additional information.
"We can't have a policeman on every corner, but we appreciate the public being our eyes and ears," Krukow said.
Rewards are provided from a pool of funds for those who provide a tip resulting in an arrest and indictment. Crime Stoppers is seeking regular donations for the pool to add to the $2,350 it has already received from businesses and individuals.
Anyone interested in donating to the Clay County Crime Stoppers program may send donations to P.O. Box 7957, Spencer, IA 51301.
"Its everybody's civic duty to make the community safe," Lawson said. "That's why these programs are out there."