CrimeStoppers: Recent media coverage highlights criticism of Houston Crime Stoppers

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Criticism of CrimeStoppers in Houston has made the front page of the nation’s largest newspaper.

Both the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle report significant criticism of the organization.

Their reporting includes claims that the organization’s mission has changed to a focus on non-liability cases due to a reduction in funding due to court-ordered financial probation.

ABC13 tried to get the CEO of CrimeStoppers to interview about the matter on Friday.

We were told the organization was drafting a statement response and would conduct interviews when it came out.

As of Friday evening, no response had been released.

There are two separate articles from different organizations on CrimeStoppers detailing dates, financial records and criticism.

“One of the things in the course of my reporting and consideration was this claim that some have made that it was financially motivated,” said St. John Barned-Smith, public safety reporter for the Houston Chronicle.

Barned-Smith notes in his month-long research report that CrimeStoppers’ funding from a routine $50 judge-ordered probation order has fallen dramatically.

The Chronicle noted in 2017 that crime fighters received $630,000 from the initiative. In 2020, they received $85,000 in funding.

“Some of the judges I spoke to said they made the decision to channel that money to smaller organizations… to women’s shelters. Places they thought weren’t as well known as crimefighters,” Barned-Smith said.

Because bond talks were a hot topic in our area, many judges, especially Democrats, were criticized.

Chronicles findings indicate a decline in CrimeStoppers funding as new Democratic judges across Harris County took up their roles.

The Chronicle article points out that the director of victim services at the Houston chapter of CrimeStoppers is part of a program on another network that talks about our area’s bond issues, judges, and the upcoming election.

“They denied any claim that this had any partisan motive. Their argument was that we … there are people who will get out on bail who will then commit more crimes, and that’s five-alarm fire and that’s what we’re focusing on was the argument,” Barned said -Smith.

While we await a response from CrimeStoppers, both the articles and reporters have drawn criticism with claims they were conspiring to make these plays together. Some call them slam pieces.

Barned-Smith tells us they are competing publications, both digging for the same story.

“When we saw that they had published, we went for it too, because we didn’t want intruders from New York to steal the home paper, absolutely not,” Barned-Smith said.

Barned-Smith said the first part of their article was due to be published this weekend, but they postponed it when they saw the Times publish their article.

For updates on this story, follow Daniela Hurtado on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. CrimeStoppers: Recent media coverage highlights criticism of Houston Crime Stoppers

Dais Johnston

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