For more than a year, New York state has maintained a tip line allowing people to report illegal gun owners and collect a $500 reward.
CBS-6 news reported the existence of the tip line on Wednesday. It was previously a “well-kept secret” that received little promotion from state officials or fanfare in the media, according to the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
A February 2012 press release from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office first publicly announced the tip line, saying it was designed to “encourage citizens to report illegal firearm possession.”
The press release explained that reward amounts would be based on the usefulness of the information tipsters provide, but did not spell out explicit reward tiers.
Information leading to an arrest can earn callers up to $500, according to an operator who answered the line when The Daily Caller called. The number is 1-855-GUNSNYS.
Earlier this week, authorities discussed “reviving” the tip line by generating publicity for it, according to John Grebert, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.
“In our most recent meeting on Monday afternoon we talked about reviving this tip line and informing our members about it by sending out a message and scheduling a conference call to discuss it,” he wrote in a statement. “The Association partners with the State on a regular basis to provide local law enforcement with additional resources to help them in their efforts to reduce gun-related and violent crimes in their jurisdictions.”
On the Facebook page for The Record’s story, several users criticized the tip line for apparently encouraging New Yorkers to spy on each other.
But a spokesperson for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services defended the program.
“This program has been in place for more than a year and is aimed only at getting illegal crime guns off the streets: a goal that every New Yorker can agree with,” wrote Janine Kava, director of public information at NYS DCJS.
Authorities did not respond to questions about how much reward money had been paid out through the program.
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