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Baltimore residents can get paid for reporting armed felons and drug dealers to law enforcement

Baltimore residents can get paid for reporting armed felons and drug dealers to law enforcement
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and federal law enforcement officials announce a new tip hotline aimed at getting handguns off city streets. (Jessica Anderson/Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore residents could get paid thousands of dollars for tips on the city’s armed criminals, federal and local law enforcement officials announced Thursday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will pay for information that leads to arrests of felons, drug dealers, and others who possess and use firearms in Baltimore City.

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“Currently, they walk the streets without fear of going to jail,” Robert Cekada, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Baltimore division. “We found public support is that missing factor that we need to close the loop on these investigations.”

Cekada made the announcement at Baltimore Police headquarters downtown with Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert K Hur.

“This is an initiative to make sure that we can get information about people who are carrying and using those guns so we can more effective in targeting those individuals,” Harrison said.

Those who report information about armed criminals could get anywhere from $1,000 to “upwards of $25,000,” Cekada said. Information can be provided anonymously to 888-ATF-TIPS.

The agency leaders said reducing gun violence in the city is a joint effort that requires a multifaceted approach as Baltimore continues to see high levels of violence. There have been 116 homicides this year, and more than 200 shootings.

“Far too many people are being shot and killed in our city. Far too many people are making the poor choice of arming themselves before they go out in the streets, and far too many of our most vulnerable people, our children, our babies are becoming victims to senseless gun violence,” Hur said.

The new tip line is advertised on seven billboards around the city. The billboards will remain up through the next two weeks and again around the July 4th weekend, times when Cekada said the city sees increases in violence.

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