Texas Crime Stoppers Certification Process
One of the most important functions of the Texas Crime Stoppers Council is to certify local Crime Stoppers corporations as eligible to receive funds from the courts to pay rewards.
There are two types of certification; initial and continued. Both types require the submission of an application with supporting documents. Applications, and supporting documents, are submitted to the director of Texas Crime Stoppers. The director works with the corporation to ensure that the requirements of certification are complete. Once complete, the director presents the application to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council. The Council votes to either approve or deny the application. Once approved, the director sends a Certificate of Certification to the corporation. At that point, the corporation is eligible to receive funds from the courts. Certification is good for a period of two years.
So, why is certification of local corporations essential? The certification process provides verification to the judges that funds they are considering felony probationers under Articles 37.073, 42.12 and 42.152, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, is in fact going to a valid Crime Stoppers corporation. Without a certification process, there is potential for fraud. Any individual organization can declare itself a “Crime Stoppers organization” and seek court funds that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes judges to collect from defendants who are placed on community supervision. Safeguards are also necessary to assure that local Crime Stoppers organizations do not use the courts’ money for political or other unsuitable activities.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes judges to fine each felon placed on probation up to $50.00 payable to the local Crime Stoppers Corporation. In addition, judges can order felony probationers to reimburse local Crime Stoppers corporations for the reward amount paid to the tipster who provided the tip that led to the felon’s arrest and conviction.
Crime Stoppers corporations can use court fees and reward repayments only to pay rewards to tipsters who call in tips that lead to arrests and convictions. However, Chapter 414 authorizes certified corporations to use up to 20% of the funds received from the courts each year for administrative costs.
In order to become a certified Corporation, the Council members look at the continuity, leadership, community support, and general conduct of each Crime Stoppers corporation. To maintain objectivity, the Council has developed rules for certification that are published in the Texas Administrative Code and revised periodically. Along with the form, applicants for initial certification must submit a copy of the letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granting the organization 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The applicant must also provide a membership list for the board of directors and law enforcement coordinator with names, positions held, terms of office, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses. Two training certificates are required, showing that training occurred within the 12-month period preceding the application—one training certificate for a board member and one training certificate for a coordinator. The State staff provide several opportunities for regional training throughout the year, as well as annual conferences. Finally, the board chair must sign and date the “Conditions of Certification” form.
Initial Certification Process
Organizations applying for certification for the first time are required to complete an application form, located in the State Resources tab on our website.
This form requires the applicant to provide information about the organization, its board of directors and law enforcement coordinator, participating law enforcement agencies, and training data. The board chair, chief of police or sheriff, and the coordinator sign it.
The application form and documents will be sent to the director of the council at the Governor’s Office. Once the documents are processed and the application is complete, the director presents the information for consideration by the council at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
If the council approves certification, the director sends a “Certificate of Certification” to the corporation, along with a letter stating that the corporation is eligible to receive funds from the courts. The certificate is valid for two years from its issue date. It is then up to the corporation’s board of directors to seek probation fees and reward repayments from the local courts.
Continued Certification Process
Organizations applying for certification renewal at the end of the two-year period submit all the documents listed for the initial certification process, along with some other materials to demonstrate that the corporation is functioning in accordance with Crime Stoppers guidelines and complying with the rules set forth in the Texas Administrative Code.
The corporation must provide its annual financial statements for the two years preceding certification renewal. These financial statements describe the income the corporation received each year and how it spent funds. While an audit report is not required, many larger corporations with significant income do obtain an audit. Crime Stoppers rules require only that an accountant who is not a member of the organization’s board review the financial documents. The accountant must provide a statement that the financial records appear to be in order.
Most Crime Stoppers corporations keep their financial records using a computer-based system. At the end of the organization’s fiscal year, these computer-based accounting systems generate a summary statement of all income, bank account balances, and all expenditures. These financial statements are similar to the annual “Profit and Loss Statements” that businesses prepare.
If your corporation does not receive court funds, simply submit a letter on your corporation’s letterhead stating that no court funds were received during the preceding two-year period.
Each certified corporation must submit an annual Probation Fee and Repayment Report (PFRR) to the Crime Stoppers director by January 31. This form describes in detail the amount of funds received from the courts during the preceding calendar year and how those funds were expended. If your corporation did not receive any court funds, submit the PFRR with zeroes in the appropriate spaces on the form. The PFRR can be found in the State Resources tab on our website.
Once all the required documents are assembled, the corporation’s chair signs and dates the “Conditions of Continuing Certification Form” and mails the package to the Crime Stoppers director at the Governor’s Office for review. If the council approves the organization for continuing certification, the certification is valid for two years.