By Tamas Mondovics

A partnership formed last month between Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, the county’s law enforcement agencies, including Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and Tampa and Temple Terrace Police Departments, has led to the launch of a new reward program designed specifically to help curb gun violence.

The new initiative named Gun Bounty Program was recently announced during a press conference led by Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida State Attorney Mark Ober, who serves Hillsborough County.

“Sadly, we hear almost every day of tragic events that needlessly snuff out a life or injure our families, children or friends,” Ober said as he stood in front of a panel of County government and law enforcement officials, among them Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay Executive Director Lisa Haber, Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay President Debbie Carter, City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and HCSO Colonel Donna Lusczynski,
“These events are perpetrated by criminals with illegal firearms,” Ober continued.

Haber explained that the program is based on a simple formula of one gun, one arrest, equals a reward of $1,000, all promoted under the motto: see it, say it, stop it. The $1,000 cash reward is given when an anonymous tip is called into Crime Stoppers that results in at least one arrest on a fire arm related charge with the recovery of at least one illegal firearm.

“Combating gun violence in Hillsborough County is a priority for Crime Stoppers and its law enforcement partners,” Haber said.

In 2015, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigated 687 criminal offenses involving a firearm, including 18 homicides.

Unlike a gun-buy-back program, Gun Bounty specifically focuses on illegal guns in the hands of a criminal that may use the weapon in future crimes.

Tampa Police Department’s $20,000 donation toward the cause joined HCSO’s $15,000 and the city of Tampa’s $10,000—none of it taxpayer money.

“Community support and funding is key to the effort,” Haber said.

Anonymous tips regarding illegal firearms can be given to Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1 (800) 873-TIPS (8477), submitting a tip at www.crimestopperstb.com ,or a tip via the free P3Tips mobile app. Visit www.crimestopperstb.com.