It encourages people in the city to call the police if they know of someone who illegally owns a gun or weapon. The program not only encourages people to call and report illegal gun possession but it also offers a reward. Anyone who tips the police off of an illegal weapon gets $500 and police officers say it's sparking a community-wide effort to get guns off the street.
Gun violence is a part of any city but the people of Utica are calling for a crackdown and with new initiatives like the stop the violence gun reward program, the community is stepping up to help.
"They call the number that's listed on our Facebook page, they give the information to one of our investigators and through the investigation, if a gun is recovered, then the money is passed out to the people that give the information,” says Lt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department.
That phone call comes with a $500 reward but police say more importantly, it could help prevent a violent situation and so far, so good.
"We’ve had people come forward and we've been able to get guns off the street which again, is the most important part of it,” said Lt. Hauck.
The Gun Reward Program is part of a state grant given to agencies focusing on fighting illegal gun possession. But that's not all this city is doing to combat gun violence, recent peace marches have been making quite a statement.
"These peace walks I think are only a positive, I think it can help even if it reaches one or two people it's worth having them, and so again, it needs to be a whole community that takes part in reducing crime and gun violence,” says Lt. Hauck.
As people walk to protest violence, just last month two local men stepped up and helped a police officer wrestling an armed criminal. Police say this heroic act plus the peace walks plus the new program should hopefully help reduce violence on our streets.
The Gun Reward Program is part of the New York State G.I.V.E. program which stands for Gun Involved Violence Elimination. All phone calls and tips are confidential. To report someone in possession of an illegal gun call (315) 520-0842.
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