HAMPTON ROADS, Va -- In October, Del. Kirk Cox said he was going to push for an increase in the current Crime Line reward maximum in the 2020 General Assembly session. Cox's move would push for a $5,000 maximum, up from the current amount of $1,000.
Crime Lines such as the Virginia Beach Crime Solvers say they're on board with the move.
“The higher reward might entice more people to come forward, especially on the more serious cases, the violent crimes," Raymond Eisenberg, the chairman of the Virginia Beach Crime Solvers, said. "With that increase in rewards, we’re hoping will get more tips.”
The $1,000 reward has been in effect since the 1980s but has not increased since then.
Though the Virginia Beach Crime Solvers may support the push, Eisenberg said those who call in with eligible tips should not expect the maximum reward.
“On a limited basis, we would not be increasing the reward at the lower end of the tips, you know, fugitives and crimes like that," he said. "For the bigger cases, we would probably come up with more money.”
The Virginia Beach Crime Solvers Board said it does have ample money in its budget to accommodate an increase. Meanwhile, smaller Crime Line boards such as the Isle of Wight, Smithfield, Windsor Crime Line said they do not have the resources that the bigger cities might have and said they have a smaller budget.
“In a smaller community, we don’t have resources to work to raise that amount of money," Volpe Boykin, the chairman for the Isle of Wight, Smithfield, Windsor Crime Line, said. "We go to businesses, we go to citizens, we get money from wherever we can get it.”
Both Crime Lines are dependent on raising money from public donations and fundraisers. They do not receive money from police departments, government agencies or any other means of taxpayer-funded sources.
"I’ve stirred cheese for four hours, I’ve cooked bacon for four or five hours, you name it and we’ve done that at different events to raise money for Crime Line," Boykin said.
Though this Crime Line is smaller, Boykin said it does support the increase as well if it means more tips. When it comes to police departments, Boykin said the departments he works with are also in favor.
The Virginia Beach Police Department is also on board and said, “We are very excited and in full support of the proposed increase of the reward payout to $5,000 and believe it will further vitalize an already very active and successful Crime Solvers program.”
Below is the department's full statement:
"In reference to the proposed increase of rewards to $5,000, as the Crime Solvers Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Police Department, I am very excited about it and in full support of it. I believe that it will result in a major increase of anonymous tips, which can only lead to more solved crimes and found fugitives. While it will be solely up to the Board of Directors on how to enact these changes, if approved, several options are available. All payouts from the simplest “fugitive location” tips to the most significant “homicide suspect identification/solved violent crimes”, could be raised an equal amount. Or, most reward payout calculations could remain the same, except for significant increases only in the “violent crime” related offense category (Homicide, Malicious Wounding, Armed Robbery, etc.). A third option to consider could be to also give major rewards for information leading to arrests involving our Cold Case Investigations Unit’s cases, which includes long term unsolved homicides, missing persons (likely homicides) and Unidentified Remains cases. In the end, the final determination will be made by the Board of Directors after thoughtful and significant consideration of numerous aspects.
In the end, however, we are very excited and in full support of the proposed increase of the reward payout to $5,000 and believe it will further vitalize an already very active and successful Crime Solvers program. This year alone, the citizen led Virginia Beach Crime Solvers Organization has been responsible for working 885 tips, solving 107 police cases, locating and arresting 135 criminals and fugitives from justice, and authorizing payments over $9,079 to our anonymous tipsters who are working to maintain a safe society for their families and yours.
Tips can be made anytime, 7 days a week, by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP, visiting www.CrimeSolvers.com, or downloading the P3 app on your iPhone or Android (free)."
-Virginia Beach Police Department.
Boykin said if a victim of a crime wants to contribute some reward money from their own pocket and increase the reward above $1,000, they cannot. The increase to the limit would also help that.
Even if the change becomes law, the boards can still determine their maximum rewards.