In an effort to reduce violent crime, Baltimore officials and Metro Crime Stoppers are giving $500 rewards for tips that lead to illegal gun forfeitures.
If a tip leads to a felony gun arrest, the tipster could receive another $500 officials said Tuesday under one of the five billboards around the city they plan to use to advertise the yearlong program.
"While we've made major gains in making our community safer, our citizens deserve better," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Tipsters can provide information by calling Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland at 1-866-7-LOCKUP, by texting to CRIMES or 274637 or by filling out an online form at metrocrimestoppers.org. Rawlings-Blake and the City Council have approved $60,000 to fund rewards.
The most recent city crime data shows that 2,288 crimes have been committed with guns this year in Baltimore — a 5 percent drop compared with the same point last year. Homicides by guns are down 14 percent this year. One hundred and forty-seven people have been shot dead so far in 2014.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said police have been rebuilding "trust in every neighborhood" after several police "discourtesy" complaints, excessive-force reports and lawsuits alleging police brutality in recent years.
He said he believes residents are trusting police more, as shown by a dramatic increase in tips coming in last year compared with the year before.
"We're seeing progress in the work that we're doing," Rawlings-Blake said.