Legislation proposed in the Virginia State House of Delegates would increase the maximum reward for reporting crimes from $1,000 to $5,000 in an attempt to boost incentivization.
House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, filed the measure.
“Local police and sheriff’s offices across the Commonwealth are looking for new tools to fight crime in our neighborhoods and this legislation will offer more incentive for those with important information to come forward,” Cox said in a news release. “From car break-ins to the most violent crimes, this legislation will allow law enforcement to close more cases and get those who wish to victimize Virginians off the streets.”
Payments are made through Crime Solvers and Crime Stoppers, but the higher payout would not affect taxpayers because the reward fund is raised entirely through private donations. Local institutions will still be able to set their rewards and can choose to maintain a $1,000 limit if they feel that there is no need for a higher limit.
Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard said in the news release that raising the reward limit will increase the likelihood of crimes being solved and potentially lead to them being solved more quickly.
“I have been a part of Crime Solvers since its inception in 1984,” Leonard said. I also served as the commander of the Investigation Division within the Chesterfield County Police Department and I can tell you first hand that Crime Solvers has been responsible for solving many crimes right here in Chesterfield County. By allowing for larger rewards to be offered, this will only increase the amount of crimes that are solved and solved quickly. I am grateful to Speaker Cox and the General Assembly for taking a closer look at improving this tool that is vital to protecting our families here in Chesterfield.”
Lt. Tommy Potter, president of Virginia Crime Stoppers, told The Center Square via email that increasing the maximum tip payout will likely result in more tips.
“I do feel that the increase in tip payout will generate more tips and thus hopefully more cases being solved,” Potter said. “What we have seen is a reluctance in tipsters coming forward on violent felony cases such as murders for only $1,000.00, and remember that is the maximum amount eligible to be paid and not always the amount paid out. So with the increased limits we are now able to pay more based on the severity of the crime and information given.”
Most states have a $1,000 maximum limit for reward payouts.