By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police are putting their money where their mouth is.

CPD is giving away massive amounts of cash for tips on illegal guns and murders in the city. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey is asking do these kinds of rewards really work?

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The dollar amounts are noteworthy here. For example, a tipster whose tip leads to a conviction in a murder case would end up with $15,000 dollars in their pocket. CBS 2 asked an expert as to whether it will lead to results?

“These kinds of programs actually date take back to the 19th century.”

Dr. Arthur Lurigio said you have to look to the 1800s for the first uses of cash rewards to stop crime.

“So this isn’t nothing new.”

He’s one of the authors of one of first national studies evaluating the effectiveness of these kinds of rewards, dating back to 1986.

His study showed it was getting an award that mattered, not so much the exact award figure. On Friday, CPD announced its latest version.

“The gun trafficking and homicide tip line,” said CPD Superintendent David Brown.

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Dr. Lurigio is impressed by the size of the rewards CPD is offering. It’s $3,000 for anonymous tips leading to charges of someone buying or selling more than 10 guns. It goes up to $5,000 for a conviction.

And when it comes to homicides, the rewards triple. It’s $10,000 for tips leading to homicide charges and a whopping $15,000 for a conviction.

“This is a serious program,” Lurigio said. “The ones that I’ve studied over the years have not offered rewards up to or beyond $500, sometimes $1,000. So I applaud the city.”

He said that no matter the reward, his research has found that in order for people to actually use the tip line, they need three things:

  1. Guaranteed anonymity, not just confidentiality.
  2. A graduated reward system.
  3. A high enough reward.

All of which, Dr. Lurigio said, appear to be part of the new CPD initiative.

“I’m encouraged about the program. Because we have seen over the years that offering rewards and guaranteeing anonymity to citizens to report crimes has had some effect in solving crimes that were not otherwise being solved. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Dr. Lurigio thinks this initiative could become important future case studies for testing on how reward dollar amounts are connected to willingness to come forward.

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For more details on the anonymous tip line head call (833) 408-0069 or (312) 746-7330.

Megan Hickey