FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Because this is a community-oriented organization, we’ve put together some frequently asked questions/concerns from the public. Remember, we are here for YOU. Our goal is to collect information, feedback, etc. from a variety of sources and use it to formulate a constructive path against crime. We listen to the varying opinions on things, consider the different levels of education and experience of those raising issues, review facts and case studies, and then propose a solution to our Board of Directors that we feel has the greatest chance of long-term success. And while we recognize this will not please everyone, or even the majority, that does not mean we will not be effective in our mission against crime and we ask for your patience and trust.
No matter what town you live in, there are always going to be individuals that like to gossip, spread rumors, make someone out to be a villain, manipulate facts, etc. In smaller towns, however, these types of people get more attention.
It should be noted that any intentional misrepresentation of the facts, or publicly written works with the goal of damaging the reputation of Citizens Against Crime without strong evidence, may put the author at risk for a lawsuit. Citizens Against Crime is a legal entity of its own, with its own rights to enjoy as such. We are a “veteran-owned” organization, with very intelligent leadership, and are not afraid to take issues head-on. If the facts are unknown or speculative they should not be repeated!
In an effort to protect the community against a misrepresentation of facts or to simply clear up any confusion, the following is being openly shared with the general public:
1. Is Citizens Against Crime a business?
1. Citizens Against Crime, LLC (CAC Burlington) is, in-fact, a business. However, so is every other major community organization and non-profit organization. A “business” is a separate legal entity that is registered with a state or states. In our case, the State of Iowa.
2. The specific legal structure of this business is currently a “LLC” (Limited Liability Company). The reason Citizens Against Crime, LLC was formed as an LLC is because this is the simplest and most effective way for an individual to form a legal entity.
3. In order to get official IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Non-Profit status, however, the company must be formed as a corporation. Since this is the goal of Citizens Against Crime, we are in the process of converting to a “Corporation” (instead of a “LLC”). Once this lengthy process has been completed, we will still be a business.
4. Just because an organization is a business that does not mean it is in business to make a profit. Non-profits (or not for profit) are businesses where the goal of the business is not in making a profit for the owners.
5. A not-for-profit or Non-Profit organization/company *IS* legally allowed to make money. Without being able to do this it would be impossible for the organization to grow. What can NOT be done is to issue dividends (profit) to shareholders. Citizens Against Crime does not and never will do that. 100% of all money raised stays with the organization and the communities it supports.
2. Where does the money go? Is there any accountability?
1. Citizens Against Crime, LLC currently only has one single bank account. The total balance of this account is $10.00. There has only been one deposit ever (to open the account). No other funds have been collected to date. This is intentional. Any fundraisers we promote direct money raised to other organizations.
2. When funds are eventually raised, they will be deposited into this account. If specifically earmarked for a specific cause or fund, it will be noted in our notes (minutes) from Board Meetings.
3. If at any time a member of the community is concerned about financial responsibility, the bylaws (which we created and are required to comply with by law) facilitate a way for a formal request for information. Generally speaking, a confirmed member of the community (or donor) can make a formal request at an official regularly-scheduled public meeting. The request will then go to the Board of Directors for review. Most non-profits don’t have such a formal or streamlined process. We do this as a courtesy to the general public to maintain their trust.
3. Does CAC actually DO anything?
1. There are quite a few awesome citizens out there who regularly contribute to their community in the form of volunteer work, financial donations, meeting with neighbors, neighborhood watch groups, etc. But those actions are just a very small portion of the problem. Every one of those things benefits the community, but all of those things done every day of the week will never address the core crime issues in our neighborhoods.
2. Citizens Against Crime isn’t a traditional neighborhood watch group. We aren’t a charity fundraising group. And we’re certainly not a group that flares up whenever there is a spike in crime and then disappears over time. The whole purpose of our organization is to provide the community with a framework and foundation that is lasting; one that addresses the core issues of poverty and related crime in our neighborhoods. In order to address these issues effectively, a multitude of issues have to be addressed such such as reducing transient activity, maintaining an adequate police force size, rallying against injustices or weak policy, revitalizing weakened neighborhood watch programs or helping to reinforce existing ones, etc. These types of activities involve very complicated processes, laws, ordinances, and changing people’s minds. They’re not things you can just “start doing” or “walk the street” and be done with. There are formal processes to follow and “battles” to fight. These things typically span the course of a year or more.
3. Every organization and individual has their role in, and contribution to, the community. Churches typically focus on charity, outreach, and social programs. Individuals typically form neighborhood watch groups or help raise money. Educational institutions and businesses generally provide programs or sponsor events. But they don’t coordinate community meetings, analyze crime statistics, lobby for change on behalf of the community, etc. These are things they’re either not allowed to do or could cause problems if they did. This is how CAC fits into the picture. It’s much more complicated than simply “doing things”. We assure you, we’re doing quite a few things behind the scenes in preparation for much bigger things.
4. Are you “buddy buddy” with the Police Department?
1. Our interaction with the Police Department and other official agencies is strictly professional. They play their role in the community and we play ours.
2. We do our very best to coordinate agendas and align interests, but we are two completely different organizations. The Police Department has absolutely no say on how we operate or what we do, and we have absolutely no say on how they operate or what they do.
3. While we do have aligned interests, the Police Department isn’t “immune” from our analysis or procedures. If we find willful abuse, excessive force, gross injustice, corruption, etc. we will address the issue without reservation. On the other hand, if the Police Department has a valid concern or reasonable request, we generally comply with their requests.
5. Where are you?! Another bad thing happened!
1. We aren’t law enforcement and we certainly can’t stop all crime. The desperate, selfish, or evil nature of human beings will always bring crime to any community.
2. Our goal is to sustain reasonable levels of activity in each of our target areas. However, we depend on members of the community to volunteer their time and efforts in each of these areas. If participation is low (eg. Neighborhood Watch groups), it is more likely that there will be crime in those areas that may have been preventable. For this reason we regularly encourage citizens to get engaged in their communities in whatever way they can.
3. Put simply, the question should be “Where is the community?!” and you should channel your frustration into motivation to find people to get involved with Citizens Against Crime.
6. Who exactly runs CAC? Who are your staff members?
1. Citizens Against Crime is a national organization owned and operated by our Executive Director & Founder Sean S. Jellema.
2. The DBA “CAC Burlington” is a regional operator for the Greater Burlington Area that is officially a part of the national Citizens Against Crime organization. This will soon be replaced with “Citizens Against Crime of Southeast Iowa”.
3. Various volunteers have come and gone over the years, but we typically retain 2-3 active volunteers and another 3-4 somewhat active volunteers. Depending on the needs of the time, these people are placed into specific roles.
6. What can I do to help?
1. There are different ways you can help out, but it depends on how involved you want to be.
2. If you have experience or education in our specific mission areas (criminal justice, law enforcement, legal, military, etc.) or have a lot of free time – and want to be a community leader, let us know and we’ll meet with you to find out where you’re best suited.
3. If you don’t have a lot of time, but want to be involved, we can match you up with existing leadership or others like you.
4. If you don’t have any real time to give, we can provide you with information so that you can spread the word about Citizens Against Crime/CAC.