CHAMPAIGN — Champaign County Crime Stoppers officials say their recent gun bounty program led to 10 recovered firearms and four suspects taken off the streets.
And now, the volunteer group needs to see if it can come up with the money to continue the pilot program past this month.
Crime Stoppers in January announced the program, in which a tip that leads to a felony gun arrest would mean an automatic $1,000 reward, the maximum possible.
Champaign police Sgt. Geoff Coon, Crime Stoppers’ law enforcement liaison, said there have been three such payouts, with two more tips pending. Coon said the cases deal with drug search warrants that turn up felons who are not allowed to have guns.
Said Coon: “I talked to Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force supervisor Dave Griffet, who’s very proactive and has his ear to the streets.
The feedback he’s getting is people are aware of it in the community. In his opinion, it is driving up our tips and some of the information we’re receiving.”
Crime Stoppers board President John Hecker also believes the program is worth continuing. But more big rewards mean the group will need to double down on fundraising.
“We’re going to need to make a major appeal to the community as a whole and also some of the larger corporate constituents of Champaign County because these gun-related crimes definitely affect those locations,” Hecker said. “Basically, bring forth the importance of this and the success we’ve had with the hopes they would step forward to assist in the funding.”
The Crime Stoppers board meets on April 25 and could decide next steps then.
Crime Stoppers receives money from court fees, fundraisers and donations.
Last year, according to Vice President Dawn Coyne, the group got $9,900 in court fees and gave out $9,800 in rewards.
To help or provide an anonymous crime tip, visit 373tips.com.