Hays County Crime Stoppers to host annual conference
The Hays County Crime Stoppers will host the 27th annual Texas Crime Stoppers Campus Conference, beginning Monday.
Several hundred high school students from across Texas are set to attend the conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel Convention Center in San Marcos between Feb. 6-8.
“We have more than 300 people registered,” said Kim Hilsenbeck, conference chair and HCCS volunteer. “The conference took more than a year of planning, fundraising and nail-biting but we’re ready.”
HCCS said teenagers between 14-18 will be the majority of conference goers. Additional attendees will include law enforcement and related personnel such as police officers, sheriff’s deputies, school resource officers and school safety directors. Local attendees will include students from Hays High School and Johnson High School who are a part of their respective campus crime stoppers groups, HCCS added.
This year’s conference theme will be “Clued In” and features a murder mystery-style dinner on the first night, Hilsenbeck said.
“More importantly, though, our line-up of speakers is second to none,” Hilsenbeck said. “General and breakout sessions include topics such as school safety, domestic and dating violence, sex trafficking, cyberbullying, suicide prevention, and a roundtable on police-community perceptions.”
The conference will also feature a roundtable with students addressing the ongoing opioid crisis from a teen perspective.
“Our underlying goal of this event is helping these students realize they have a voice when it comes to campus safety,” Hilsenbeck said. “They know what’s going on at their schools and in their communities, but many are scared or unwilling to speak up. But they absolutely are the change agents in this situation. They can go back to their campus and be part of the solution.”
Ahead of the conference, HCCS Executive Director Sgt. Jeff Jordan said he is “proud of the team that brought the upcoming conference to life.”
“We went from zero to 60 in about five seconds,” Jordan said. “The board voted in January 2022 to host the 2023 conference and from that point on it’s been non-stop.”
HCCS said the campus conference is overseen by Texas Crime Stoppers|Public Safety Office, which is under the umbrella of the Governor’s Office. Although a small staff in Austin has helped HCCS with the conference, most details have been up to the local organization.
Jordan stated that he’s seen the group’s volunteers take ownership of the event by coordinating the venue, speakers, food, sponsorship, entertainment, speaker gifts, centerpieces, signage and the program book.
“When those students arrive at the hotel next week, they are in for a great event,” Jordan said. “And we want them to go back to their campuses with knowledge, confidence and the tools needed to create a safer environment.”
HCCS Executive Board Chair Gary Tucker said the event is in good hands and knows the organization is prepared.
“This may be our first campus conference, but it’s not our first rodeo,” Tucker said. “I believe in this group of volunteers and I’m confident the event will be a success.”
The conference’s Title Sponsor is Broaddus Defense. Other event sponsors include H-E-B, 777 Buda, La Cima, DS2 Ranch (Dodie and Dick Scott), Suzanne & John Pacheco, and Brown Distributing.
To learn more and become an event sponsor, visit www.callcrimestopper.com.