Crimestoppers is an effective community network for getting wrongdoers off the streets, the group’s president and CEO, Darlene Cusanza, recently told the Rotary Club of Westwego.

“The program has a 95 percent conviction rate on cases solved by tips. And, every fourteen minutes, there’s a crime solved through the Crimestoppers network,” Cusanza said.

“Eighty-two percent of cases in New Orleans ended with convictions. We have solved over 500 cases.”

Crimestoppers Greater New Orleans, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works in cooperation with local law enforcement, media, and the general public to solve and prevent crimes in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Plaquemines and Washington.

When Cusanza reached the podium, she opened her presentation with a question for the group: “What’s the phone number to Crimestoppers?” At first, the room was quiet. Then someone said, “We Google it!” Finally, with all seriousness, one of the Rotarian gave the correct answer, “822-1111 or (877) 903-STOP.”

“A person can provide crime-solving assistance to the authorities without being directly involved in the investigation process,” Cusanza said.

Here is how the program works. Callers contact the Crimestoppers command center at 822-1111 or (877) 903-STOP and give the operator information about a crime. The operator will never ask for the caller’s name, number, address or any other identifying information.

Callers are assigned a code number, which is Crimestoppers’ only way to identify them. The information is given to law enforcement, which reports back to Crimestoppers on whether it led to the solving or prevention of a crime.

A caller who wants to check on the status of an investigation can do so by calling Crimestoppers with his or her code number.

Crimestoppers also serves victims by keeping their cases relevant in the media.

The program shares criminal intelligence with surrounding law enforcement agencies. By doing so, each parish will know whether a criminal has been arrested in another parish. This is a way of connecting the dots.

Crimestoppers offers a reward up to $2,500 because a lot of families don’t have the money to offer a reward. Money for the rewards is raised through donations and a $2 court fee.

Crimestoppers also works with neighborhood watch groups, civic associations, and Night Out Against Crime to help communities take a stand against crime.

The Safe School Hotline was initiated in February 2004. The program has solved more than 275 crimes, made more than 145 arrests and paid more than $32,000 in reward money to students. The hotline provides students and teachers a safe and anonymous way to report information on crimes on campus or in the community.

The Crimestoppers Teen Ambassadors Against Crime leadership program helps students gain a better understanding of the criminal justice arena. The program educates teenagers about the costs and consequences of crime, their responsibilities as citizens, and their role as mentors to their peers. The program is active in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes.

“They learned what it means to work for criminal justice,” Cusanza said. “They talked to victims’ families, people who have served time, and people who have been hurt.”

In August, a Teen Peace Summit will be at Xavier University, featuring national and local musical guests and speakers on the topics of crime prevention and conflict resolution.

Boys & Girls Club Gala

A gala and auction to benefit the Boys & Girls Club West Bank Unit will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at 900 10th St., Gretna. The event theme is “Create Great Futures.” A live auction will be led by Clancy Dubos.

For more information or to make reservations, call the club at (504) 368-3434 or Judy Sullivan at (504) 884-0945.

National Women’s Health Week

The three Jefferson Community Health Care Centers are celebrating National Women’s Health Week May 12-16. Informational sessions and health screenings will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dates vary by locations.

For information, call the Marrero center at (504) 341-4006, the Avondale center at (504) 436-2233, or the Lafitte center at (504) 689-3300.

Yetoria Lumpkin DeShazier writes about the people and events in Algiers and the West Bank. Contact her at ydeshazier@gmail.com or call (504) 367-0905.