West Jefferson Mayor Scott Hockenbery holds high hopes for the success of the newly revised Reward for Information program.
The program encourages citizens to anonymously report information about criminal activity. Those who provide information that leads to a criminal’s arrest and conviction will receive a monetary reward.
As part of an initiative to combat increasing instances of vandalism and break-ins in the village, Hockenbery, a former fire fighter and National Guard member, revised two existing ordinances to offer rewards, not just for vandalism and graffiti, but for all crimes.
“While this program has been in place for over 10 years, it has not really been promoted as a deterrent against crime,” Hockenbery said.
“I believe that crime, on any level, is not acceptable to the hardworking residents of West Jefferson, and that they will take advantage of this program, which will help prevent crime from happening,” he said.
Because the previous ordinances set a precedent to the revised ordinance, it will take effect immediately. Technical support for the program already exists, though changes are expected.
“We will continue to shape the way we do things as we move forward, to make it the best program it can be,” Hockenbery said.
Citizens can call the village police department at any hour to report anonymous information.
At present, the village account totals $1,500 per year in available reward compensation. If exceeded, the mayor intends to re-appropriate village monies to continue doling cash for the cause. Individual rewards will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
After much research and comparison with other areas, Hockenbery believes in the strength and satisfaction of the program.
“There is always someone who has information that can help solve a crime…Who couldn’t use a few extra hundred dollars in their pocket? It’s simple; programs like this work.”