KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An increased homicide reward is proving to be a success, but the TIPS Hotline is now running out of money.
"We could be at five solved homicides before this week is out," said Rick Armstrong, KC Crime Commission president. "That`s in five weeks since inception. We believe it`s making a difference."
A city council committee Wednesday approved spending $300,000 more to pay for increased TIPS Hotline rewards.
Since the reward for information about homicides was boosted to $25,000, Armstrong believes there have been five tips that are helping police solve five separate homicides.
"If we don't have the money to support what we have been advertising publicly, in short order, we will not be able to sustain that payout capacity," Armstrong said.
City taxpayers already may be on the hook for $125,000 in rewards during the next few weeks.
That's why the crime commission and police are asking council members for $1 million more for the reward fund to cover the next two years.
"We are hopeful that this is a game changer," Armstrong said. "However if we keep paying out this rate, it's $25,000, $100,000 for four. In three more weeks we could be at 12 which would be $300,000. We don`t know. We are excited."
Armstrong said tips about homicides have jumped 40% since the reward increased. But committee members didn't want to commit another $1 million from the city's contingency fund right now.
"I've heard from some folks who say why would we fund more money for rewards when we should be talking about prevention," said Councilman Kevin McManus, who supports the increased rewards.
Council members would like police and the crime commission to provide regular reports on how public money is being spent. The committee did approve $310,000 more for the hotline, to go along with $190,000 already appropriated.
"Our community is in a state of emergency," Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said. "We need to do everything we can to address this problem."
Elected leaders hope $500,000 will get the hotline through the end of the year, unless the pace continues to be one solved case per week.
In addition to rewards, the funding would also expand a second chance program for offenders and a scholastic crime stoppers program for young people.
The crime commission hopes to match tax money with $1 million in private contributions. That would pay for advertising and marketing the TIPS Hotline enhanced reward program.