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Working to Keep Houstonians Safe

Rania Mankarious

Crime Stoppers of Houston (CSOH) is a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to public safety since 1980. In so doing, it partners with citizens, the media, and the criminal justice system. In the over 43 years CSOH has been serving the city, it has never faltered in its commitment to keeping the community safe. It has solved over 36,000 felony crimes and paid out over $13 million in reward money.

The concept for Crime Stoppers began in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1976 when a peace officer developed a system by which tipsters were able to provide information that would lead to the arrest of major criminal offenders. What was novel about the system was that it guaranteed the tipsters’ anonymity by state law. A cash reward was also promised. The model was brought to Houston by a group of concerned citizens in 1980, and CSOH was born. There are now Crime Stoppers organizations worldwide. Each one works independently.

Community engagement is the thread that holds the fabric of CSOH together, and the organization works continuously to empower, educate, and engage the community in the important conversations related to crime, public safety, and the protection of society’s most vulnerable citizens. Its programs are designed to work with, and protect, the community with their involvement.

The Tip Line Program
The Tip Line program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is still 100 percent anonymous and still offers cash rewards for information. The aim of the program is to motivate all citizens to report crime. Tips can be made by phone, using the CSOH mobile app, or by filling out the online form. By collaborating with over 70 local and federal law enforcement agencies, it has been extremely successful in solving and preventing crime in the Greater Houston Area.

Safe School Institute
What began as the Safe School Program, has expanded into the Safe School Institute. This direct-service program has become a trusted resource of all things relating to school safety. It keeps schools safe by creating a proactive dialogue among students, school staff, and law enforcement about personal and school safety. Its aim is to reduce victimization, deter delinquency, and increase campus reporting through prevention-based presentations and trainings. The free year-round program has educated over 1.5 million students in 86 school districts in the Greater Houston Area and Texas. All three levels of preventions: primary, secondary, and tertiary are delivered by the institute, not just during school hours, but also after school, and on- or off-campus—wherever and whenever needed.

Safe Community Institute
The overall purpose of the Safe Community program is to identify crime that is affecting the Greater Houston Area and take meaningful action to prevent crime before it occurs through citizen empowerment and education. The Safe Community Institute provides everything needed for public safety and crime prevention in one place, including statistical data, resources, prevention education, public safety awareness content, and victim services. 

The Victim Services and Advocacy Program
The Victim Services and Advocacy Program promotes safety, healing, justice, and rights for victims and survivors of crimes. The program: advocates through all stages of victimization; ensures victims and survivors have a voice in the legal system; assists in rebuilding victims’ and survivors’ lives; collaborates with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, probation and parole; advocates for legislative improvement to enhance victims’ rights and public safety; and increases public knowledge of victimization and its impact; as well as much more.

Fallen Hero Project
The Fallen Hero Project defends and gives back to the community heroes who keep Houston and its citizens safe. It endows exceptional protections to peace officers and fire fighters to ensure their safety as they serve the community.

Community Partnerships
CSOH is the leading crime prevention resource for the Greater Houston area. As such, its role is to facilitate all the important conversations with the whole community. Because of its affiliation with other agencies, law enforcement, and the media, it is able to hold an array of educational and awareness events throughout the calendar year.

One community member who has been a supporter of CSOH from the start is Dave Ward. Ward is a legend in the Houston and broadcasting communities. When CSOH was in its infant stages, Ward, a broadcast journalist with ABC 13, aired weekly reenactments of local crimes at the behest of the Downtown Exchange Club, the group forming CSOH. The reenactments were a success and brought people’s attention to the crime situation in Houston. A Lifetime Member of CSOH, no other member of the community has been a more stalwart supporter than Ward.

It is only fitting, then, that when the first Crime Stoppers’ headquarters in the world was built in Houston, it was called the Dave Ward Building, Crime Stoppers of Houston. Located in midtown Houston, the building opened in January 2017 and is the first public safety crime-prevention facility of its kind, bringing together civilians and law enforcement, as well as students and community members, from all over Houston, the State of Texas, and the country. Also in honor of Ward, the building houses detailed collections, archives, and a retrospective gallery relating his career and contributions.

Rania Mankarious, CEO of CSOH, led a motivated and industrious team to get the Dave Ward Building fully funded in record time. The realization of the first Crime Stoppers’ headquarters in the world is her proudest achievement. Mankarious joined CSOH as an intern in 2006, even though she was an attorney with a master’s degree. She worked vigorously and became the organization’s director of marketing in 2008. In March 2013, she was chosen to lead the organization as executive director, and by 2018, she was named the organization’s first CEO. Under her leadership, CSOH has been elevated to new heights.

CKW LUXE had the honor of speaking with Mankarious about CSOH and its connection to the community, its public safety work, and current and future projects.

CKW LUXE: Please explain the mission of Crime Stoppers of Houston and how Crime Stoppers of Houston benefits the community.


Rania Mankarious:
Crime Stoppers’ mission is to solve and prevent crime in partnership with citizens, media and the criminal justice system. Most know it for our anonymous tip line, which offers cash rewards for information that leads to the identification or charging of individuals, but we do so much beyond the tip line. Crime Stoppers of Houston also has a Safe School Institute which offers free programs to students K-12th grade and covers every crime trend imaginable. We also train parents, teachers, and school administrators as well as school-based law enforcement. Our goal is to ensure that all kids in all schools are safe at all times! We also have a Safe Community Institute, which houses our Safe Community Program, our Victims Services department, our Balanced Voice Podcast, and the Glenda Gordy Research Center!  


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CKW: Please tell us about Crime Stoppers of Houston’s proactive public safety work.

RM: We believe that a great deal of criminal activity can be proactively thwarted by education. We understand that a predator’s greatest gift is an uninformed child - therefore we spend so much time teaching kids (in an age-appropriate manner) how to stay safe online and in real time. We also know that criminals thrive on opportunities, so we put a tremendous amount of effort into educating the community on what trends are taking place so they can no longer be easy targets. Our discussions cover every topic imaginable from online safety to child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, animal cruelty, identity theft, violence, all felony crimes and any/everything that might pop up - especially seasonal issues. If you arm a community with information, it makes that community less likely to be targeted.  

CKW: What are some of the special projects Crime Stoppers of Houston is currently involved in, and what are your goals for them?

RM: At the start of the year, a group of parents who have neurodiverse children of all ages asked us to extend our programming to their children. They understand their children may easily become victims of crime (online and in life) or participate in criminal activity - even unknowingly. These parents wanted their kids educated, but also asked us to find a way to offer tools for parents, teachers, and law enforcement and even work on legislation. Because of Michelle Heinz, Wendy Dawson, and Coach Colleen Russo, the NEEDS program was born! We are now actively working to meet the many needs of the wonderfully special neurodiverse community, a community we all love.  

CKW: What has it meant to Crime Stoppers of Houston to have the Dave Ward building, the first Crime Stoppers’ headquarters in the world?

RM: It’s incredibly special and was made possible thanks to our board and a long list of unbelievably special donors. This headquarters is the first and only Crime Stoppers’ building of its kind. To see our mission in brick and mortar means more than we could ever say. Thousands of partners, students, media partners, law enforcement, elected officials, victims and more have walked into the Dave Ward Building to take advantage of our free programming. Most importantly, you can see a wonderfully special mural of Dave and his career as well as some artifacts from his decades in radio and at ABC-13!

CKW: Please tell us about Crime Stoppers of Houston’s latest collaboration with the police department. We would also be interested in hearing about the organization’s plans for the future. 

RM: Crime Stoppers has been a tool for law enforcement for over 43 years. The tip line allows dangerous felony cases to be solved quickly and efficiently, saving officer time and law enforcement resources. Altogether, the tip line has solved over 36,000 felony cases in Houston. We know our partners’ resources are strapped, so we look forward to doing even more together. We want to help in any way we can.

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