When Warren Selby, chairman of the Macon Regional Crimestoppers board, walked into a Macon bank a few years ago, the bank’s chief financial officer thanked him for helping her daughter.
Surprised and intrigued, Selby learned that because of a Crimestoppers posting, the woman’s daughter was able to prove her estranged husband was not able to be located. That allowed her to be able to obtain a passport for their daughter without his signature for travel out of the country on a cruise.
“We never know how far this program reaches until people like that in the community speak up,” said Selby, 54. “We think of Crimestoppers being identifying the location of the criminal or helping solve this crime.”
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Crimestoppers and of Selby’s tenure as board chairman.
Selby said he likes to share that story when he speaks to civic groups about the program that allows anonymous tipsters to receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Sometimes the tips are higher if law enforcement or others in the community add to the reward.
Selby’s involvement in the organization began through his friendship with former Macon Mayor Jim Marshall, who hired retired FBI agent John Vasquez as police chief and told Selby that Vasquez liked to play racquetball.
Selby and the former police chief formed a friendship playing the sport, and Vasquez began to court Selby about helping bringing to life a new program in Macon. Selby first served as chairman of the Crimestoppers steering committee and helped foster relationships among community members and law enforcement officers.
“People have asked me that question 15 years later: What drew you to Crimestoppers? And I don’t know. Maybe there was something in my DNA. ... My grandfather was a sheriff,” Selby said. His grandfather, C.M. Selby, was a sheriff in Middlesex County, Virginia.
“So as you go back in the Selby family tree, you find that law enforcement was in my DNA and at that time, that didn’t really come to my forefront. I didn’t say, ah, you know, my granddaddy was a sheriff, I want to do this.”
Selby said he serves on lots of boards, but it’s often hard to measure the results of some of those organizations’ efforts. That’s not the case with Crimestoppers.
“I can sit in front of you today and tell you that we’ve had tips that have led to over 4,500 arrests, and we’ve paid out over $640,000 in rewards. And those are real numbers.”
BUILDER BY TRADE
Selby followed in his father’s footsteps in the commercial building business.
His father, Warren Selby Sr., founded Warren Associates in 1971. Selby worked with his father while in high school on weekends and in the summer. He joined the business full time in 1982 after graduating from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in building science.
Selby assumed leadership of the company when his father retired in 1993. Warren Selby Sr. continues to serve as the business’ board chairman.
Even with his work at Warren Associates, Selby Jr. may be better known for his role in Crimestoppers.
“Through that 15 years, I’ve had people come to me, and this is what’s kind of funny: Some of them were in law enforcement and say, ‘I thought this was your full-time job,’” Selby said. “Well, it’s not. Obviously, this is part of community service that I do.”
Selby said he has thought about his community work and how he will be remembered.
“Golly, here I work in the family business that’s been around 44 years, and we’ve built some major landmarks in our community. But here’s the conclusion I came to: When I’m gone, I’d much rather be better remembered for what I gave to this world than what I took. And I guess that’s just the way I was raised, that I’m here as a servant. ... I have found this to be a program that I can serve this community and serve it in a good capacity, and I continue to have that passion.
Henry Koplin, who also has served on the Crimestoppers board since the beginning, said he nominated Selby to be the chairman. Selby was elected “wholeheartedly by majority rule” and likely has the support to remain in the post for life if he wants the job, Koplin said.
“He lives and breathes this program, and how he operates the way he does daily between his business and then Crimestoppers, we all are amazed,” Koplin said. “When something goes on and we get an email or information of a meeting, it’s through him and he just is the one that holds our hands and pulls us through everything that’s going on. And we just attribute the entire success to Warren Selby in this program.”
Among his Crimestoppers accolades, Selby was named 2004 Citizen of the Year by the Southeastern Crime Stoppers Association and 2005 Civilian Crime Stopper of the Year from Crime Stoppers International.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.