This Father's Day, we profiled a new crime-fighting Web site that helps catch deadbeat dads.
And thanks to your crime tips, phones are ringing and suspects are turning themselves in.
Crimestoppers is going high-tech in Lincoln Parish, thanks to a new Web site that’s meant to help catch the bad guys.
On www.rustonlincolncrimestoppers.com, there are sections for cold cases, places to submit drug investigation tips, and icons for missing persons; but the special section for deadbeat parents is a big hit with Web surfers.
At least 15 good leads on delinquent fathers are being followed up on by police, ever since the report aired.
From the law enforcement choppers in the air that hunted for suspects in the Ruston bank robbery last week, to the canines on the ground—Lincoln Parish and Ruston will fight crime everywhere.
But one of the biggest crimes they’re fighting is deadbeat dads. It’s featured on one of the newest online tools for fighting crime that few people know about: www.rustonlincolncrimestoppers.com.
Often, a delinquent father will be featured on the Crimestoppers Web site because of a substantial amount of back child support.
Typically, their current address is unknown, so law enforcement officials hope that putting their pictures online will generate good leads so that child support can be collected. There are over 50 lawbreaking fathers featured on the site.
Last year, the assistant district attorney says over $5 million was collected in child support payments in Lincoln Parish alone.
“I’ve never heard of this Web site. This is my first time hearing about this. I think it’s a really good idea!” said Ashley Ridgell, a single mother whose baby’s father owes $10,000.
Ashley Ridgell has never heard of the Crimestoppers’ site in Lincoln Parish, but the hall of shame for deadbeat dads is catching the eyes of many single mothers who recognize the familiar faces of fathers who aren’t paying up.
“My child’s father is probably on there, too!” says Denise Anderson, with a laugh.
“I been trying to find out where he stay at a long, long time. And (the Web site’s) good because you’ll know his address,” says Ridgell.
And the cops are looking out, too—for baby daddies who try to beat the system, but can’t beat their 15 minutes of fame on the Crimestoppers site.
“This usually takes place over a long period of time. Addresses get cold. We’re asking for the public’s help locating those individuals,” said Captain Stephen Williams with the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office.
But one of the problems law enforcement officials encounter is creating publicity for the Web site. When the phone number for Crimestoppers was created following a publicity blitz, the amount paid out to tipsters doubled.
“Some people are reluctant. They’re afraid there’s not anonymity with a phone call, which there is. But some feel more secure doing it on the Web,” said Lt. Michael Lestage with the Ruston Police Department.
But page after page of delinquent baby daddies mean there are just as many single mothers struggling, ready for tips to start rolling in.
“I can’t do it. I’m struggling paycheck to paycheck. Trying to support a 6-year-old who’s growing every day,” said Ridgell.
The Crimestoppers of Ruston and Lincoln Parish was founded by concerned citizens in 1977, and is maintained by a private board.
All crime tips are held in the strictest confidentiality. Law enforcement officials in Ruston and Lincoln Parish pay out based on arrests instead of a combination of arrests and convictions, meaning tipsters don’t have to wait months or years for a payout.