In a city where many witnesses won’t speak up because they fear retaliation or don’t trust the police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department reward fund offers something extra for stepping forward. Anonymous tipsters have received more than $300,000 in rewards over the past two years, says Lt. Robert Glover, who helps administer the fund.
“We hope somebody is motivated to do the right thing by being a good citizen,” he says. “We realize some people are motivated by other means.”
The fund offers rewards of up to $25,000 for tips leading to an arrest and conviction in a murder case and up to $10,000 for carjackings and robberies involving serious injury to the victim. Monies for the fund come from assets seized in forfeiture proceedings against convicted criminals. But tipsters may end up waiting years to collect any cash. Detectives don’t make reward recommendations until after a conviction because a tipster may be testifying in the case. Glover says that process preserves the integrity of the case and eliminates any appearance that a tipster is being paid to testify.
Even after the reward is given, a tipster’s identity is never revealed and remains confidential in police records under an exception to the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, Glover says.
An independent group called Crime Solvers also offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips leading to an arrest and indictment in some unsolved crimes. But if you want the big money, the State Department will pay up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.