Miami-Dade Gun Bounty Program Getting Results

Innovative illegal gun sweep nets 2,400 tips, 535 guns and 329 arrests

The news in South Florida and beyond is filled with the atrocities done by illegal guns, but we’ll never see a headline proclaiming a crime that never happened as a result of an illegal gun being taken off the streets.
That’s the irony of a little-known program run by the Miami-Dade police through Crimestoppers: Give $1,000 for each anonymous tip that leads to an arrest and confiscation of an illegal gun.
There is enormous debate in America over legal gun ownership, but there's little disagreement about illegal guns: most agree it's time to get them off the streets.
The innovative idea in Miami-Dade County has been doing just that for more than three years. And it doesn't cost taxpayers one dime. Instead, it uses money seized during criminal prosecutions.
Attention-getting flyers in the image of a $1,000 bill are offering the reward for a tip on an illegal gun. But if one tip uncovers, say, five illegal guns and five bad guys, it means $5,000 to the tipster.
And the person who runs the gun bounty program, Sgt. Gloria Packingham, insists it truly is anonymous, so much so that if the tipster fails to provide enough accurate information, there’s no way for police to call back.
Still, the results are impressive. Since June 2007 through Monday, February 1, 2011, there have been more than 2400 tips, 535 guns confiscated, 329 arrests, 3 homicides solved, 34 commercial burglary cases closed and more than $2 million in narcotics seized.
"Yes, I'm passionate about the program,” says Sgt. Packingham. "[I'm] a member of this community too.”
On Wednesday, an officer displayed an arsenal of automatic weapons, rapid fire bullets, even ski masks. They were seized December 9, 2010 at a house in Miami-Dade after police received the anonymous tip. Police arrested one man and were left wondering what mass carnage may’ve been prevented.
Occasionally, police will make a sweep through several homes acting on several anonymous tips. They routinely come up with high powered weapons. But what the illegal gun tips also do is lead police to the arrest of people wanted on other charges but who happen to be in the house at the time. And they find drugs and other evidence used to solve many other crimes.
Detectives trace the gun serial numbers on the seized weapons and have found many were connected with previous crimes. Which leads police to wonder what future crimes were, in effect, prevented because the anonymous tip came in.
"Anything we can do," says Sgt. Packingham, “to reward people” for doing the right thing, then "it’s a wonderful opportunity."
Here’s how it works: Each caller is given a code number and remains anonymous. In fact, Crimestoppers won't take identifying information even if it's offered. There is no caller I.D., no star 69, and anonymous texts and e-mail messages are encrypted to preclude authorities from knowing who sent them. The conversations are not recorded.
The tipster is instructed to call back in a given period of time. If an arrest and confiscation are made, and the tipster calls back as instructed, the tipster is told how to take the code to a bank where they get their $1,000.
The gun bounty program is promoted in many places - two in particular: Inside jails, where gang members turn in tips on rival gangs, and inside schools, where we'll never know what atrocities these tips may've prevented already and may prevent in the future.
The Crimestoppers tip line is 305-471-8477. Text tips can be sent to 274637 (crimes) – Begin your txt msg by typing CSMD_ and continue by typing in the details of your “tip”. Do not submit your name or personal information. You will receive a confirmation text msg. Online tips are accepted at

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