CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU) — Crime Stoppers hopes its Gun Bounty Reward will act as an incentive to the public to call-in tips and help crack the case.
"Gun violence is everyone's problem," said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb.
In 2018, Champaign County was no stranger to gun violence. On more than 100 occasions, police responded to shots fired calls, according to Crime Stoppers.
"Nine people died as a result of their injuries - seven people in Champaign and two in Urbana,” said Champaign County Crime Stoppers President John Hecker.
Its those numbers that are the driving force for Champaign County Crime Stoppers. It launched its Gun Bounty Reward program and it's laid out in a simple formula.
"Felony gun crime plus arrest equal $1,000 reward payment,” said Hecker. “As always tips must come directly to Crime Stoppers in order to be qualified for the $1,000 reward."
Crime Stoppers usually paid up to $1,000, but with this program, a person automatically qualifies for the reward if the tip leads to an arrest.
Last year, Crime Stoppers said it received more than 1,200 tips, which led to the arrest of 51 people and nearly $6,000 in rewards.
"The only way we can solve these incidents is with the public's support," said Cobb.
The goal of the Gun Bounty Reward is to encourage the public to partner with law enforcement and Crime Stoppers. This can help identify criminals using guns to commit crimes.
"We would love to eliminate gun violence in our community. It's about the safety of our citizens," said Cobb.
He acknowledges the number of gun crimes have gone up in the past few years.
"We finished out 2018 at 116, so that's four more than 2016," said Cobb.
But he believes this new program can be effective.
"If you're not part of the solution, in essence you're part of the problem," said Cobb.
The Gun Bounty Reward will have a three-month trial period. Hecker said its success will rely heavily on funding and donations.
Tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous.
You can submit them by phone at 217-373-TIPS, online or from your smartphone through the P3 Tips app.