Curbing crime in our community takes an effort by all of us. One way we can help is by contacting Crime Stoppers when we have information about a crime before, during or after it has occurred.
The Crime Stoppers organization has been operating in Pueblo since 1983. Since then, tips to their anonymous system, have led to more than 1,800 arrests and solving more than 2,400 cases. Twenty of those cases were murders. One of those murders was of Brian Swartz.
Swartz's body was found in a shallow grave near Wetmore in September 2009. Even before the body was found, Crime Stoppers were receiving tips that something bad had happened to Swartz. The tips led law enforcement to make several arrests and get convictions on four of five people suspected to have played some role in his death and burial.
Despite police taking more than $14 million in drugs off the streets of Pueblo over the last 28 years, leaders of the organization say more can be done; but only with the help of the community. "I think that there are many crimes out there, and that people know about them. They're aware of the people who committed the crimes, and nobody reports it. And I think it's time that we as a community take the time to help educate people and get them to understand how they can support and solve some of these crimes that are out there," says Terry Baughman, President of Pueblo Crime Stoppers.
This year, Crime Stoppers here in Pueblo is focusing on graffiti. With the help of Pueblo Community College and a local high school artist, they are putting together a comic book that will encourage school kids in the DARE program to respect private property, and report crimes they know of to Crime Stoppers. The comic is still in its draft stages, but they hope it is ready for distribution to fifth and sixth graders in School Districts 60 and 70 soon.
It's an approach that will not be measurable for a few years, if ever, but it's something they believe will help stop the vandalism Pueblo has seen recently.
Don't forget to take the polls attached to this story, and remember, if you have information about a crime, call Crime Stoppers. In Colorado Springs, the number is 719-634-STOP (7867), and in Pueblo, you can reach the anonymous tip line at 719-542-STOP.