Nutter plans $20,000 bounty for tips leading to slaying arrests

Posted: January 27, 2012

THE NUMBERS tell you that the city is back to where it was four and five years ago, back to a murder or two a day and an incomprehensible number of shootings.

Faced with that grim reality, Mayor Nutter yesterday announced at a news conference at Strawberry Mansion High School that the city is, in so many words, now throwing the kitchen sink at its crime problems.

There was no clever, catchall nickname for the assortment of initiatives, just a clear sense that city leaders are ready to try anything to escape being forever known as "Killadelphia."

One initiative that Nutter said he hopes will be a "major game-changer" simply involves cash: $20,000 for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of a murder suspect, and $500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of thugs who carry or sell illegal guns.

"To every criminal out there, I just put a $20,000 bounty on your head," Nutter said. "We are coming for you. We will find you. People will give up that information."

The mayor said he had set aside $500,000 in the city's budget to fund the reward program.

He discussed other plans:

* Doubling the city's contribution to the district attorney's witness-assistance program to $400,000 - an announcement that called to mind the cold-blooded murder earlier this week of North Philly store clerk Rosemary Fernandez Rivera, who had given police information about another slaying.

* Boosting the Police Department's overtime budget - perhaps by a few million dollars, according to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey - so that cops can work extra hours in the city's most violent neighborhoods.

* Hiring 100 police recruits for a class that would start training at the Police Academy in June, coming on the heels of the 120 recruits scheduled to graduate from the academy in March.

* Establishing a program that would enable residents to text anonymous tips and crime photos to police.

* Expanding a Commerce Department corridor-improvement program to put surveillance cameras in residential neighborhoods and other public spaces.

And that wasn't all.

Nutter noted that although the Pennsylvania Crime Code calls for people caught carrying illegal weapons to get up to seven years in jail, many offenders in the city often get off with a slap on the wrist - a couple of months in the slammer and a little probation.

He and D.A. Seth Williams said they want to make sure the stiffest penalties are being enforced by the courts, but were vague on how that might happen.

Nutter said the city also would establish a Gun Stat program that would bring together cops, prosecutors, prisons, and probation and parole officials to focus on closely tracking those who commit gun crimes.

Temple University criminologist Jerry Ratcliffe, who has helped the Police Department develop crime-fighting strategies, said "the more-specific, focused strategies have the best chance of succeeding. . . . It's a good chance to try something new."

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