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City’s top cop unveils tip line and cash rewards for help in dealing with ‘unacceptable’ level of violence

The new tip line offers up to $15,000 for information leading to a homicide conviction.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown at a news conference in 2020.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Friday announced a new tip line to help police deal with the city’s “unacceptable” level of violence.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The city’s top cop on Friday unveiled a new tip line offering cash rewards in homicide and gun trafficking cases after a month that saw a big jump in the number of shootings over the same period one year ago.

“There is too much violence in our city and it’s unacceptable, and we’re going to use any and all tools we can to bring these offenders to justice,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said during a briefing at police headquarters.

There were 386 shootings in the city during September compared with 307 last year and 209 in 2019, according to police data. Homicides were up slightly for September 2021, with 89 compared with 81 in 2020. But there were only 53 homicides in September 2019.

For the year to date, there have been 2,726 shootings compared with 2,466 in 2020 and 1,633 in 2019. As of Sept. 30, the city has logged 616 homicides this year compared with 592 for the same period last year and 392 in 2019.

The tip line offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction in a gun trafficking case and up to $15,000 in a homicide case, Brown said. Callers may remain anonymous, Brown said.

“We want the information to be able to bring these people to justice, and we want to encourage any and all to come forward with information,” he said.

Having been in law enforcement for 30-plus years, Brown said, tip lines work.

“There is no honor amongst thieves and murderers — none,” he said. “This incentive will not only bring honest people forward because of that anonymity but likely will bring people who may be involved, who have a conscience.”

Asked why the department waited until October to introduce the tip line, Brown said: “Better late than never. We are always looking for new ways to do our jobs. We have [pleaded] with the public to come forward each, and every time we’ve had a press conference or had an opportunity to speak to community groups. ... This is another tool.”

At a separate press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched into a now familiar tirade about what she called the “underlying issues” behind the recent uptick in violence.

Just this week, that uptick included a brazen, rush-hour shooting along a two-block stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Grand and Hubbard that wounded innocent bystanders and scared the heck out of commuters and area residents.

“I believe in accountability. There are people in our community who truly believe they are accountable to no one. They are brazen. They are reckless. They clearly have no regard for the sanctity of life. And we cannot stand by and have them continue to wreak havoc,” she said.

“We must do everything possible to bring these people to justice. This can’t just be on the police department….It’s got to be on all of us.”

Lightfoot said the Chicago Police Department has “good leads,” and she’s hopeful charges will be announced shortly in at least one of those shootings.

“We’re gonna find the individuals who are responsible for these crimes. We’re gonna build the cases to make sure that they’re prosecuted. But we need to have the county step up and do its part to make sure that they’re held accountable,” the mayor said.

“Dangerous people who are recklessly endangering and taking the lives of our residents have to be held in jail. They must be. What we saw this week — if that’s not a danger to the community, if that is not a wanton disregard for the safety of others, I don’t know what is.”

What began as an honest effort to reduce the jail population to avoid “accelerating the spread of COVID” has gotten out of hand, she said.

“Now, we have people who are charged with serious crimes who have long criminal histories that are out on our streets and wreaking havoc, unfortunately, every single day. They must be locked up.”

To reach the tip line, call toll free at 833-408-0069 or 312-746-7330.