Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 11, 2019

Crime Stoppers ‘jailing’ elected officials for fundraiser

Don’t leave State Sen. Todd Gardenhire behind bars. Bail him out at the Chattanooga Crime Stoppers fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 18, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Waterhouse Pavilion. - Photographs provided

Chattanooga Crime Stoppers is locking local elected officials behind bars – and only you have the keys to release them.

Fifteen officials have agreed to be arrested for a Crime Stoppers fundraiser taking place Friday, Oct. 18, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Waterhouse Pavilion.

Crime might not pay, but Sheriff Jim Hammond, District Attorney Neal Pinkston, Mayor Jim Coppinger and others are hoping you will set them free. Crime Stoppers has set the bail for each “inmate” at $2,500.

Inmates will include: State Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Bo Watson; State Reps. Mike Carter, Yusuf Hakeem, Patsy Hazelwood, Esther Helton and Robin Smith; Hamilton County Public Defender Steve Smith; Hamilton County Deputy Sheriff Austin Garrett; Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson, Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Glenn Scruggs; Juvenile Court Clerk Gary Behler; and Coppinger, Pinkston and Hammond.

The fundraiser will include other activities, including music by DJ Chris Thompson, a crime scene set up by the Chattanooga Police Department, a “Kiss a Kop” booth, a dunking booth and food trucks. In addition, the Chattanooga Fire Department will be on hand with a fire extinguisher simulator that plays like a video game.

Officers from Signal Mountain, Soddy-Daisy, Red Bank, East Ridge, Bradley County, Hamilton County and Catoosa County will also be present.

Chattanooga Crime Stoppers was established in 1984 to assist the CPD and neighboring law enforcement agencies to fight crime in Channel 3’s viewing area. Community members receive rewards up to $1,000 for anonymously providing tips that lead to the arrest of criminals across the region.

“No one ever knows the identity of the informant,” says Chattanooga Crime Stoppers board member Marti Rutherford. “We use a Canadian call center so the courts can’t subpoena the call records.”

Crime Stoppers does not employee anyone, although CPD homicide detective Victor Miller does volunteer part-time as coordinator. The board of directors is chaired by local security consultant Danny Crowe and staffed by representatives from various law enforcement agencies as well as people from the community.

Channel 3 gives Crime Stoppers air time every Wednesday at 6 and 11 p.m. to report one crime. The organization does not receive any public funding.

“We want everyone to join the fun. And remember – most arrests solve multiple crimes,” Rutherford says.

What will happen to an official if no one bails them out? They can always wait until next year’s fundraiser.