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Palmview looking into overhauling Crime Stoppers program

Citing several management issues and a lack of a relationship with the Palmview Crime Stoppers Program, the city of Palmview voted Tuesday to look into creating a new program.

If the city were to move forward with creating a new Crime Stoppers program, that would mean the end of the current one, according to current city attorney Eric Flores.

City of Palmview LogoTuesday’s heated discussion had councilmembers Linda Sarabia, Joel Garcia and Javier Ramirez discuss several issues the city had with the Crime Stoppers Program for the last few years.

“They left our city two years ago, there’s issues with them not being transparent with us and providing their budget for review and didn’t want to work with us,” Garcia said. “It’s been a concern for us.”

To look into creating a new Crime Stoppers Program, Flores will meet with the state Crime Stoppers board to begin discussions, a process that can take up to four months, Flores said.

“We’re going to see what we can do and if we can create one, if so we’d have to pull our affiliation from the current program,” Flores explained. “There can only be one Crime Stoppers program per geographical area according to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council. If a new one is created the old one would be absolved.”

The Palmview Crime Stoppers Program was founded in 2003 and allows citizens to contact the city police department with tips on crimes and be rewarded if the tips result in an arrest or conviction according to Palmview Police Sgt. Arnold Sepulveda.

However, as there is currently no agreement of any kind between both parties-which most cities routinely carry according to Sepulveda, the Palmview Crime Stoppers Program is not obligated to report to the city.

“They’re their own corporation, they only have to report to the state Crime Stoppers Program but in the past they’ve always reported to us as a sign of good faith,” Sepulveda explained. “It was done in the past as a sign of transparency.”

According to several city council members, the Palmview Crime Stoppers program was housed at the Palmview City Hall, but its headquarters moved to Peñitas in 2017. An address listed on the program’s Facebook page however still lists a Palmview address.

This is the second time the city publicly addressed issues with the Palmview Crime Stoppers.

At a city council meeting held March 2018, council members met with representatives of the Crime Stoppers Program and grilled them about their lack of presence in city events, the program’s use of city resources, the program’s refusal to allow the city council to appoint members to the board and the purchase of a vehicle through Crime Stoppers funds but titled under the city’s name.

“It got heated,” Flores said of the meeting.

At the time, Garcia insinuated that the lack of a relationship between both parties was the result of the November 2016 election when Palmview Crime Stoppers Board Member Arnaldo Nacianceno unsuccessfully ran for city council.

While most Palmview Crime Stoppers board members declined to comment, Nacianceno confirmed in a statement to the Progress Times the program’s lack of obligation to report to the city.

“At the end of the day Palmview Crime Stoppers is a total separate entity. We do not report to the city, we report to the state,” Nacianceno stated.

Though Sarabia, Garcia and Ramirez voted in favor of looking into creating a new Crime Stoppers Program, councilmembers Jose Luis Perez and Anthony Uresti-who were elected to the city council last fall and were not present at the March 2018 meeting-questioned why the city couldn’t just attempt to rekindle a relationship with the current program.

“I know for the past two years they have not been involved with the city due to disagreements with previous and current administration, but we owe it to our citizens to set aside our differences and work together with entities that carry our city’s name,” Uresti said after the meeting.

Sarabia said that there were attempts to reach out to the local Crime Stoppers Program since last year’s meeting, but said members were unresponsive to their requests to continue discussions.

“There was misuse of funds and other things we’ve discussed already, I don’t understand why you want to continue working with them,” Sarabia told Perez at one point during the meeting.

Sepulveda said the city police department will prepare itself to work with whichever Crime Stoppers Program is put in place, be it the current one or a new one.

“We do believe that it’s a good program, many crimes have been solved because of tips provided by the public,” Sepulveda said. “There’s no doubt the program works.”

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