Community Strike Force fund under city controlOctober 29, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — A longstanding police fund dedicated to solving crimes was recently moved under the city of Jasper’s financial umbrella. At its monthly meeting last week, the Jasper Common Council approved establishing a Community Strike Force Against Crime fund.
That fund was actually launched decades ago and had been operating independently through the Jasper Police Department ever since. After a recent state board of accounts review, though, it was determined that the money needed to be charted in the city’s books.
“I think the big thing is, it’s going to help us to quickly address any new crimes or any drug crimes that occur,” Jasper Police Chief Nathan Schmitt said of the fund’s continued presence. “We have to be able to have access to money to use to give rewards out. And hopefully, someday, it’ll pay off to be able to have access to that money.”
He explained that the reserve was initially launched in the 1980s to pay out rewards to citizens who provide information leading to arrests or solving crimes. In the years that the Community Strike Force Against Crime fund has been active, though, no dollars have been paid out for those reasons.
Funds have, however, been used for confidential informant drug buys and to purchase new badge holders for officers. The roughly $20,000 that currently sits in the fund was amassed through donations from businesses and residents.
Those dollars were previously controlled by a board that consisted of the police chief, the mayor of Jasper and a German American Bank employee who would sign off on using them. The fund will now be controlled by city leadership.
“Really, it’s good that it goes under the city’s umbrella,” Schmitt said of the fund. “Because now it’ll have oversight from our clerk-treasurer. And then we can establish clear guidelines on what it’s to be used for, so it just doesn’t [sit] there.”
Going forward, the police chief said the funds will continue to be used in the same ways as they have been.
“Use it for reward money,” Schmitt said, “and use it for buy money, are basically the big things we’ll use it for. Because we don’t have any more money coming into it, since we don’t have businesses giving X amount of money every year to increase the fund, we don’t want to deplete it all by buying equipment or things like that.”
Though donations have fallen off in recent years, residents interested in contributing to the fund can do so by sending or dropping money off at the police department, in care of the Community Strike Force Against Crime.
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