Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox was joined by area law enforcement on Saturday to announce legislation that he will carry during the 2020 General Assembly Session, allowing Crime Stoppers and Crime Solvers groups statewide to increase reward payouts to $5,000. Speaker Cox made the announcement ahead of the Chesterfield County/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers Light up the Night Against Crime 5K Run.
“Local police and sheriff’s offices across the Commonwealth are looking for new tools to fight crime in our neighborhoods and this legislation will offer more incentive for those with important information to come forward,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R – Colonial Heights). “From car break ins to the most violent crimes, this legislation will allow law enforcement to close more cases and get those who wish to victimize Virginians off the streets.”
Crime Solvers reward funds are 100% raised by private donations, meaning taxpayer money is not used to pay out rewards. Currently, reward funds are capped at $1,000 as this is the maximum allowed by state law to be rewarded without the tipster having to pay taxes on the reward, protecting their identity. The legislation will raise the non-taxable amount from $1,000 to $5,000.
“We want to thank Speaker Cox for championing this legislation and his commitment to seeing its passage,” said Kevin Bacon, past president of the Virginia Crime Stoppers Association. “The increased limit should give tipsters additional peace of mind knowing they can help resolve high-profile, serious cases, which may warrant a reward higher than $1,000, without having to be concerned about reporting the reward as income. The Crime Stoppers/Solvers concept has always hinged on the ability to protect the tipsters identities, so having to report reward money as income has never made sense because of the importance of anonymity.”
Since 1984 the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers organization has received more than 26,000 tips, resulting in nearly 8,000 crimes solved. Crime Solvers is a 100% civilian administered program where law enforcement officers act solely in an advisory capacity.
“I have been apart of Crime Solvers since its inception in 1984. I also served as the commander of the Investigation Division within the Chesterfield County Police Department and I can tell you first hand that Crime Solvers has been responsible for solving many crimes right here in Chesterfield County,” said Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard. “By allowing for larger rewards to be offered this will only increase the amount of crimes that are solved and solved quickly. I am grateful to Speaker Cox and the General Assembly for taking a closer look at improving this tool that is vital to protecting our families here in Chesterfield.”
Even with this change in place, local programs would have the sole discretion of determining the low and high end of their rewards. Some may choose to keep their $1,000 limit, others may choose to enhance rewards for certain crimes.