The meeting room in Natchitoches’ Martin Luther King Recreation Center was standing room only as over 65 community leaders and citizens met to have “A Community Conversation on Crime” Thursday, January 27. The meeting was led by Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams with Police Chief Nikeo Collins, Sheriff Stuart Wright and Crimestoppers President Dr. Carmella Parker each speaking.
Mayor Williams began the event with a brief introduction and video showing the national nature of an increasing crime rate. The audience then broke into groups to discuss items such as what were the contributing factors to crime in Natchitoches and possible solutions. After the group discussions, audience members addressed the civic leaders and their fellow citizens with their ideas.
Sheriff Wright then spoke. He stated that while the majority of the Sheriff Department’s work was outside of the city limits, they did cooperate with and support the Natchitoches Police Department in a number of ways. Both he, Chief Collins and the Mayor reiterated the need for victim and witness cooperation with investigations and the end of “street justice” in which victims, friends, and family act outside of the law. So called “street justice” feeds into a cycle of violence that also leads to death and injury to innocent parties due to stray gunfire.
Natchitoches Police Chief Collins followed and spoke at length on policing in the community, its challenges, and proposed solutions. Crimestoppers President Dr. Carmella Parker closed the evening with an explanation of the Crimestoppers program and how it works. The program is completely anonymous, not even the people running the program know the identities of persons reporting investigative tips. The rewards are paid using a numerical ID rather than a name, using a bank not identified to anyone but the tipster.
Neither the police nor prosecutor will know the identity of the person providing the tip. Crimestoppers’ number is 318-238-2388.