CHICAGO — The city will start rewarding people who reveal where illegal guns are — and is even setting up a $1 million fund for the effort, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday.
The effort is part of the city’s efforts to bring down the city’s gun violence, which has soared since the start of the pandemic and shown few signs of slowing down. Lightfoot said Chicago is calling on its residents to “overcome your fears” to turn in bad guns or tell police where to find them.
“We need everyone’s help to make sure we are doing everything we can to address this horrible plague of illegal firearms,” Lightfoot said. At another point, she added, “I think we’ve gotta incentivize people to think about what’s happening [with] guns. I think there are a lot of people who know things that are happening in the neighborhoods but are too fearful to come forward.”
Lightfoot made the surprise announcement an unrelated news conference Thursday morning. She didn’t immediately say how people could report tips about illegal guns to get rewarded, though she said details will come out soon and the program will be run through the Police Department’s tip line.
Chicago has long been plagued by gun violence — and officials and experts have said at least part of that is due to the large number of guns that come from outside the city. People buy guns in states with laxer laws, like Indiana, and then bring them to the city.
In effect, the program will allow people to submit tips about illegal guns to the Police Department. If the tip is successful, the person will get an individual reward from the $1 million fund.
People can also submit tips anonymously, Lightfoot said. She said the program will not be unlike when the city offers rewards for information about crimes.
The city will pay for the $1 million program out of its corporate fund.
“This crisis demands bold and creative action,” Lightfoot said. “It demands more of each of us. And as your mayor, it demands more of me.”
Supt. David Brown met this week with President Joe Biden and other leaders to talk about how officials can end gun violence. He has offered few details about what was planned at that meeting.
Chicago residents and gun-violence prevention advocates have said community groups and neighborhoods need long-term investment — financially and through other resources — to drive down shootings and end the things that lead to crime, like poverty.
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