Wichita When growing up in Russellville, Ala., Bobby Stout didn’t plan a career in public service.
When the Navy brought Stout to Kansas in the early 1950s, a classified ad led him to apply for a job at the Wichita Police Department.
When he retires this summer, Stout will have more than a half-century of law enforcement experience — 23 years with the Police Department and 30 as director of the Wichita Crime Commission.
“The bug bit me,” he said of police work. “You never recover. You wake up one day and you’ve done it all of your adult life. I’m not the least bit sorry I did it.”
Joe Self, president of the Crime Commission’s board of directors, described Stout as “a strong director, very identifiable in the community, a big voice for Crime Stoppers.”
During his career, Stout rose to deputy chief. At the Crime Commission, he has been the point man for the group’s annual awards dinner and conference on gangs and drugs, which offers inexpensive training for hundreds of area law enforcement officers.
To the public, Stout is best known as the face of Wichita/Sedgwick County Crime Stoppers — a program he helped found in 1980 and nurture in its early years.
Crime Stoppers today is a proven criminal justice tool where police ask for the public’s help in solving a crime.
Stout said the program struggled in its early years, but that changed after May 3, 1983, the day Julie Rosenhamer, 26, was shot to death in a robbery at the Church’s Fried Chicken restaurant at 1302 N. Broadway.
“It was the case that made Crime Stoppers,” Stout said.
In those days, Stout said, the program’s Crime of the Week was featured in a re-enactment that appeared on a Sunday night television news show. When Church’s refused to take part in a re-enactment, Stout said, a camera crew set up on public property and taped the segment anyway, with the restaurant in the background.
“In less than an hour, we had the names of the two people who had robbed the store and committed the homicide,” Stout said.
The two suspects, Yvonne Pink and Regina Baldwin, were convicted of murder and are serving life sentences at the Topeka Correctional Facility.
Although Crime Stoppers no longer films re-enactments, it offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that solves the Crime of the Week.