BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Reward money for information in Baltimore murder cases is increasing in an effort to solve cases and get criminals off the streets. Because of more city funding, and a state matching program, Metro Crime Stoppers rewards are doubling, and could soon increase even more.
“I’ve been involved in cases in my district that have gotten solved fairly quickly and they’ve had large rewards, and I’ve seen cases that are still unsolved that have small rewards,” said Baltimore City Councilman Yitzy Schleifer.
It’s because of Schleifer’s efforts to increase rewards that Metro Crime Stoppers is now offering $8,000 for information that leads to an arrest for the murder of 66-year-old Clarence Buckner January 30. His wife said he was followed home from the casino and killed inside their Northeast Baltimore home. She was able to escape.
Before city funding and matching funds from the state, Metro Crime Stoppers reward baseline was $2,000-$4,000. Now, it’s $8,000 or more.
“This is the one part for crime fighting where you actually can see the return on your investment directly so you only pay out if it works,” said Schleifer. “You’re putting forward a few thousand dollars, but what you’re actually doing is you’re solving cases quicker. You’re taking violent criminals off the street quicker.”
“I’m excited to see movement, this is progress in the right direction,” said Monique Smith, from Hug Don’t Shoot.
Advocates like Smith believe it will help.
“To me, it’s another piece to the puzzle when we’re trying to get Baltimore back on its feet again,” said Smith.
The city council also passed Schleifer’s bill to amend the city charter, creating a non-lapsing fund to increase rewards and make them the same across the board.
“When I see our 300th homicide victim of the year, a 5-year-old girl in West Baltimore and a reward comes out for $4,000 but then you see a case in another part of town that’s getting $100,000, that’s just not equitable,” said Schleifer. “I’m upset for those families. I’m upset for those communities that they are putting a $2,000, $4,000 price tag on information for that person arrest. Those communities and families need closure.”
The mayor still needs to sign it, and because it’s a charter amendment, it will be on the ballot in November.
There are multiple ways to submit a tip to Metro Crime Stoppers, all anonymously. You can call the toll free 24-hour hotline at 1-866-756-2587, submit through the P3 Tips mobile app, or fill out a form online. They don’t take your name or number. Instead, you get a reference number, and you have to follow up to see if your tip entitles you to the reward.