'I can't underestimate the importance of the program'Thursday, March 07, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Officials from Crime Stoppers Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District are clearly enthused about an important upcoming event.
They announced Thursday at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel they will play host to Crime Stoppers representatives from Ontario and Michigan communities at the annual Crime Stoppers Ontario Conference, to be held at the Delta June 7 to June 11.
Local Crime Stoppers officials, including President Len Bailey and Vice President Tom Burmaster were present for Thursday's announcement, along with Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso and Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Bob Davies.
This will mark the second time Sault Ste. Marie has hosted the annual Crime Stoppers Ontario Conference, the first time in 1998.
Between 200 and 220 representatives are expected to attend from across Ontario, as well as delegates from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Grand Rapids and Lansing, Burmaster said.
Speaking to reporters, Burmaster said information sharing with U.S. Crime Stoppers and law enforcement officials is vitally important, adding: “Crime knows no borders.”
The Conference will include a keynote address from author/journalist Jeff Ansell, who will speak to delegates about getting the Crime Stoppers message out.
Apart from shop talk, recreational activities are planned for visiting delegates.
"We've put together a program everyone will enjoy," Burmaster said.
"We're great hosts in this community, everyone will enjoy their time here. The Crime Stoppers program certainly makes our community a safer place to live," Mayor Amaroso said.
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Bob Davies said: "Police really benefit from Crime Stoppers in helping us solve crimes... I can't underestimate the importance of the program."
Crime Stoppers began in 1976 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Ontario's first Crime Stoppers started up in 1983.
Local Crime Stoppers President Len Bailey reminisced about the history of the Crime Stoppers office in Sault Ste. Marie, which began in 1985.
"Being a police officer at the time, I could see its advantages. I've watched it grow and grow. It's such a wonderful concept. We see the benefit of it every day."
In 1988, the local Crime Stoppers had grown to include areas of the Algoma District.
Bailey said: "We include White River and Hornepayne on our north side, to Elliot Lake on the east."
In 1990, Crime Stoppers Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District officially joined up with the Northern International Crime Stoppers located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Bailey noted: "We're the first joint international Crime Stoppers in North America, where the phones are answered by Sault, Ontario co-coordinators for all of Eastern Upper Michigan. That takes away a lot of bureaucracy of passing information back and forth."
To help carry out their work in assisting police solve crime, fundraising activities are held by Crime Stoppers on an ongoing basis.
Burmaster told SooToday.com the next major Crime Stoppers fundraiser is the Custom Kitchen Draw, to be held on Mother's Day.
Top prize is a kitchen renovation, worth up to $25,000, or $20,000 cash.
Five thousand tickets for that prize are on sale for $20 each, on sale at the Delta, most banks, Rome's, Pino's, Canadian Tire, TIM-BR Mart and other locations.
Burmaster said the budget for the Conference is about $85,000.
To that end, Scotiabank has given a $10,000 sponsorship to help with that cost.
"We're waiting for confirmation from other sponsors," Burmaster said.
Total cost per delegate is around $400.
Since 1985, Crime Stoppers of Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District's work has lead to more than 2,000 local arrests and the recovery of almost $10 million in stolen property and seizure of illegal drugs, all of which, the group states, would not have been possible without the help of donation of money and time from citizens of the Sault and district.