Alarmed by rising gun violence, Crimestoppers Greater New Orleans, the nonprofit group that solicits anonymous tips on major area crimes, said Friday that it is increasing its cash rewards for information leading to arrests in violent crimes.
Residents who call in tips that lead to an arrest in non-fatal shootings will now get $3,500, and tipsters who offer information leading to the arrest of someone in a homicide can receive up to $5,000, Crimestoppers President and CEO Darlene Cusanza said.
The group typically offers up to $2,500 for tips leading to arrests in killings.
Cusanza also said there is an increased effort from law enforcement agencies to get weapons off the streets. Anyone who hands in a gun that has been linked to a crime can now receive up to $1,000, Cusanza said, adding that ballistics tests will be used to confirm the link.
Cusanza urged residents to help the New Orleans Police Department get a handle on rising crime. “It’s just a phone call — you’re never identified,” she said.
According to local crime analyst Jeff Asher, there have been 275 shooting incidents in the city so far this year. There have been at least 94 homicides since Jan. 1, according to a count by The New Orleans Advocate.
During Friday’s event, which included a prayer service at St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison and Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office, both lauded Crimestoppers for its work.
“We could not do what we do without Crimestoppers,” Harrison said. “This is how we define community. All of us together — all of us on one page.”
"Live, learn and love — those are things every family should be able to do safely in the city of New Orleans and throughout Southeast Louisiana," Sallet said. "It should be something that people demand and expect, not hope for."
Friday’s service included several dozen city and community leaders from the nine-parish area that Crimestoppers serves, as well as Project Good Samaritan chairs Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Pastor Antoine Barriere.
Aymond asked that the community hold communal prayers together on July 10 and August 22 at 12:30 p.m. Residents can visit the Crimestoppers Greater New Orleans Facebook page to watch a live stream of the prayer services.
Anyone with any information about a crime is asked to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included a quote from FBI special agent in charge Jeffrey Sallet that said crime was at an all-time high. The all-time high was in the mid-1990s.