On Wednesday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a near-doubling of award money for anonymous tips in murder cases that lead to an arrest.
Moody made the announcement during a series of roundtable meetings in Orlando and Tampa to discuss the challenges facing homicide investigators as homicide crimes increase in many parts of the state. The increase takes the maximum allowable award amount from $5,000 to $9,500 for anonymous tips provided to the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers (FACS) that lead to arrests with the goal of increasing community participation in solving murders.
“While Florida has enjoyed decades of declining crime rates statewide, some violent homicide offenses are on the rise drastically in areas of our state. I am hopeful this increased award amount will incentivize more Floridians with knowledge of murder cases to anonymously come forward with the information and send criminals a clear message: you cannot hide from justice in our state. Florida is stronger and safer when law enforcement has help and support from those in our communities,” Moody said.
Currently, there are 27 Crime Stopper organizations statewide. Each local organization fields tips individually and offers reward amounts between $1,000-$5,000 to anonymous tipsters that provide information leading to an arrest. With the new increased incentive, the reward amount is now $9,500 for homicide tips leading to an arrest.
Moody and FACS created the new incentive increase in hopes to expand citizen communication with the successful program on the heels of a statewide increase in murders. Murders increased 16 percent statewide in just the first six months of 2020, with rates skyrocketing in Broward, Duval and Orange Counties. The Attorney General’s Office and FACS hope to see those numbers decline. Over the past year, FACS received thousands of tips statewide that resulted in more than 2,000 arrests and more than 5,000 cases cleared.
The homicide award increase is made possible by a partnership with FACS and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Local Crime Stoppers organizations pay the maximum amount available locally, and FACS is now authorized to pay the difference of the award totaling up to $9,500.
This is just the latest enhancement Moody and FACS have implemented over the past few months. In October 2020, Moody joined FACS to become the first state in the nation to implement a statewide cellular tips number for citizens to anonymously report crime. Prior to the statewide number, the Crime Stoppers program required citizens to call individual local numbers to report tips. Now, citizens are able to provide anonymous tips about a crime from anywhere in the state by dialing **TIPS (8477).
The Florida Attorney General’s Office provides funding to FACS through a general revenue grant sourced from conviction fines. The funds help to facilitate the administration of the nonprofit program and reward tipsters for reports that lead to arrests.
Established in 1977, FACS is an anonymous citizens crime reporting system. Over the past four decades, the program has proved to be a vital asset in assisting law enforcement with catching dangerous criminals and protecting communities.
To report tips anonymously about unsolved crimes, citizens can now simply dial **TIPS.