JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford says the Gun Bounty Program, born in 2006, has been an effective crime-fighting tool, resulting in more than 2600 tips, 305 arrests and 332 confiscated weapons.
"I said, look, these folks who are putting our community at risk by carrying illegal guns. Why don't we put them at risk for carrying that illegal gun? Because I'm going to offer all their buddies $1,000 to turn them in," he said.
That's $1,000 to anyone who turns in a crook and their gun. The sheriff said, "I love to tell folks these people we're talking about, they'll turn their mama in for $1,000 bucks."
The money used for the rewards is cash that's been seized in crimes, earned in auctions or donated by the public. But times have been tough. And while the program never really went away, the sheriff says there's been no money to market it.
He's working with other city leaders to change that. That change starts Tuesday night, when the City Council considers the sheriff's request to move $130,000 from a special law enforcement trust fund to the First Coast Crime Stoppers, to reload the Gun Bounty Program, and get more bad guys and their guns off the street.
"If you're carrying a gun illegally in this community, we're coming after you. And so are your buddies," Rutherford warned.
He says while crime is down in Jacksonville overall, the number of times a gun is fired during the commission of a crime is up 22-percent. It's the main reason he says he wants to rejuvenate this program.
Since its inception, $201,000 worth of rewards have been given out to anonymous tipsters through First Coast Crime Stoppers. And the sheriff says the Gun Bounty Program will soon be getting even more of a boost from the folks at the chamber, the Civic Council and the Weaver Foundation.