Service club offers reward money to help police

2013-10-23T16:55:00Z 2014-04-02T14:11:18Z Service club offers reward money to help policeBy ZACH BENOIT The Billings Gazette

The Billings Breakfast Exchange Club plans to partner with the Billings Police Department to offer a reward for information in difficult cases.

The plan is for the BPD to present certain cases that investigators are struggling to solve to the club's board and let it decide if they'd like to attach a public reward to it, Chief Rich St. John said.

"There are times where we're out of leads and at a dead end with a case," St. John said. "This kind of financial mechanism has been proven to help. I'm just pleased that they chose to do this with us."

No money has been offered up yet for any cases, but the club already has set funds aside.

Rod Ostermiller, a club board member, said members are hoping to test the idea out with the possibility of and expanding it in the future.

The exchange club came up with the idea when police were working to catch a serial rapist this summer. Police arrested a suspect, Toby Eugene Griego, 41, in late August, before the club could establish a reward. Griego has been charged in that case.

Both Ostermiller and St. John said the club will be able to choose what cases it provides a reward for, and how much money is offered.

"We just want to get the most bang for our buck," Ostermiller said. "We can go to our board meetings and see what the options are and maybe we can find something that's in line with our mission."

The Breakfast Exchange Club is a 116-member service club that focuses on supporting child abuse prevention and promoting patriotism, youth activities and community service.

While there might not always be a reward from the fund availble, St. John said it's good to know that it's an option. Rewards, he said, often encourage people to come forward with information who otherwise wouldn't.

"Providing a reward just helps bring down some of the barriers," he said. "There's many facets of a police department, from detectives to patrol to (internet crimes), and all of them have problematic cases. It's as simple as that and the money can provide extra incentive to help."

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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