Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s Democrat mayor, announced on July 15, 2021, that she would create a $1 million reward program through the Chicago Police Department’s tip line for people who call in reports of illegal firearms. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said, “This incentive will not only bring honest people forward because of that anonymity but likely will bring people who may be involved, who have a conscience.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that, according to police, one year into the program, only $10,395 of the $1 million on offer has been awarded to tipsters via Crime Stoppers. (Cook County Crime Stoppers will similarly pay tipsters for information resulting in the arrest and filing of felony charges against an offender, in the amount of $1,000.)
According to a CPD advertisement for Lightfoot’s “Gun Trafficking and Homicide Tip Line,” tips leading to charges of someone buying or selling ten or more guns will get a tipster $3,000. If the tip results in a conviction, the reward is $5,000. If a tipster brings information to the CPD’s attention which results in homicide charges, he or she will be awarded $10,000.
A May 1 Fox32 report noted that the gun tip line had paid out its first award of $10,000. If $10,395 has been awarded to date and the first $10,000 award was conferred in May, then, given the CPD’s prize breakdown, there hasn’t been more than one actionable tip set phoned in.
People’s Fabric, associated with crime watchdog Chicago Northwest Side News, alleged that as of May, the CPD had fielded only 44 calls via their tip line.
Lori Lightfoot listed the tip line as one of “Chicago’s Key Accomplishments in 2021” and hoped that it might help curb gun crime in a city that saw 2,146 shootings in 2021 and, as of August 14, 1,758 shootings and 311 homicides in 2022.
A spokesman for Lightfoot contended that “our gun-tip line, participating in gun buyback and gun turn-in programs are worthwhile endeavors as we take steps to tackle the current challenges in public safety.”
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who at one time considered a run for mayor, has been critical of Lightfoot’s initiatives. He told the Chicago Tribune that “headlines and P.R. don’t keep people alive.” He suggested that while illegal guns are a problem, the greater problem impacting crime in Chicago is that shooters are too often not charged.