CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA)– A program is cleaning up crime in Champaign County, and the community is stepping up to help. Champaign County Crime Stoppers started an Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program at the end of January.
“We saw the increase in gun related crime here in Champaign County and we knew we had to do something about it,” said Dawn Coyne, Vice President Champaign County Crime Stoppers. Anytime someone gives informaton regarding a felony gun crime and that tip leads to an arrest the tipster will get the maximum reward crime stoppers can give 1000 dollars. “We need people to talk and tell us what’s happening in the gun related incidents,” said Tracy Parsons with the Champaign County Community coalition. “And it has helped. It has helped take guns off the streets which is what we want to do,” said Coyne.
The program started in January and in the first 11 months they have given out 12 thousand dollars in rewards for anonymous tips. That information has led to 13 arrests and the recovery of 23 firearms. That reward money was coming out of their own general fund and cash started to run low. “We didn’t know where we were going to get the money from honestly,” said Coyne.
The City of Champaign and the Champaign County Community Coalition stepped in to help. They’re contributing up to 30,000 dollars. “Without having this opportunity perhaps people wouldn’t have the incentive to share what they know,” said Parsons. That’s money Crime Stoppers volunteers say will only be used for their Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program to help the streets become safer. “We don’t want to have people worry about the crime in our area and it’s become an issue. It’s become a big issue,” said Coyne. They’re hoping to have the money from the city and Champaign County Community Coalition next year. They are still looking for more donors for Crime Stoppers and the Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program. Champaign County Crime Stoppers says since the program started it has seen a 667 percent increase in weapons seized. It’s had a seven percent increase in overall tips.