Crime Stopper rewards grow as more people give cops helping hand
The Brooklyn "serial killer" caught last week had a $22,000 reward for his capture.
While officials wouldn't say if a payout was a factor in Salvatore Perrone's arrest, the NYPD has been shelling out big bucks this year to catch suspects in the Big Apple's most dangerous crimes. Law enforcement experts say the cash makes a difference.
So far this year, the NYPD's Crime Stoppers program has doled out $72,050 for an estimated 55 cases, eclipsing $39,300 given out last year, the NYPD said.
Robert McCrie, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the program, now in its 36th year, received a huge boost when the cops took it to social networks. Civilians who feared that they would be in danger for "snitching" now have an online mask, he said.
"The fact that the public can send their message in via email, they can create an identity for them to receive their award," he said.
A number of high-profile cases this year led to the NYPD offering nearly 70 rewards with a combined total of about $90,000, the police said. Cops offer rewards in the hundreds for low-level misdemeanors like graffiti, and give more for information related to homicides.
The Brooklyn murder spree is part of a long list of New York crimes that prompted big rewards, such as the infamous "Son of Sam" case, where various organizations offered $10,000 rewards for killer David Berkowitz's capture.
Funding for the program doesn't come from taxpayers; rather, the NYPD gets the cash through donations made by organizations through the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation.
City Councilman Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the while program is a big help, but needs more publicity so that more organizations can lend a hand.
There are currently eight unsolved Crime Stoppers cases, including the search for the man who shot Officer Brian Groves, 30, on the Lower East Side in July. That case has a $22,000 reward.
"One thing we can do better is publicizing these rewards," he said.
McCrie said that the NYPD was slow when it came to placing Crime Stoppers on Facebook and Twitter, but it still received a huge boost in activity from civilians who hesitated to talk to the cops.
"There are many who are looking for a way to give the information without getting involved," he said. The professor, who conducted various studies on urban policing and security, said he couldn't think of any other way that the NYPD could enhance the program. People would still hesitate to talk with cops even if rewards were higher.
The NYPD wouldn't comment on the program.