USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to create a program that would offer a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the recovery of an illegal firearm,” Brentwood Patch parroted, noting the measure was approved 15-0. “The vote also authorizes the Los Angeles Police Department to enter into an agreement with Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers to collect tips on individuals in possession of an illegal firearm, and to anonymously pay out the rewards.”
To no one’s surprise, the politician pushing this is Paul Krekorian, as committed an enemy of the right to keep and bear arms as anyone on the council, which is saying something. He was also a driving “force” behind a “lock up your safety” edict, as well as a standard capacity magazine ban, which ought to make itself more fully felt (at least by the “law-abiding”) the next time L.A. has an “uprising.”
As for Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers, now empowered to act as Gunsnitch Central, it claims partnerships with “87 Cities, and 44 law enforcement agencies within Los Angeles County.”
“All tips are completely anonymous,” Crime Stoppers promises. “No personal information, phone number, e-mail, IP address or location is ever requested, saved, traced, tracked or monitored.
“All tips are handled by a third party service provider,” the program overview elaborates. “You will never have physical contact with any law enforcement agency, communication is done by a encrypted chat using a code and password [and] up to a $1,000.00 reward can be collected anonymously.”
Instructions are then provided to “submit a tip” online, by phone call or by the smartphone app, to check back for updates, and finally for “claiming your reward.”
What’s not readily apparent is any warning discouraging false tips.
It’s not hard to imagine reasons why some would consider abusing the program to bring harm to others. Imagine you have a rival gang member encroaching on your turf. What better way to have the police do your dirty work and eliminate the competition than by SWATting him? If you're both criminals, there’s even a chance he’ll “go for his waistband.” And as an added bonus, you could collect up to a cool grand for your trouble.
Are there safeguards to discourage abuses? What are they? And why aren't they clearly spelled out to all being tempted?
Or what if you have other reasons, from petty and personal to the more premeditated and elaborate? What if you’re a cop and getting a warrant might prove problematic? (It's not like we haven't seen prominent warrant “workarounds” at the highest law enforcement levels recently.) Calling in a tip could reduce a lot of red tape. (And it’s not like corruption up to and including planting guns is unheard of, even in cities with a “Crime Stoppers gun bounty” program.)
Remember, you're guaranteed anonymity and promised shielding from law enfocement cognizance. If you don't turn yourself in for making false reports, where's the risk?
But L.A. doesn’t have that level of systemic law enforcement corruption, does it? Tell that to their former sheriff, another anti-(private) gun oath-breaker and now a “prohibited person” sentenced to three years for obstruction of justice.
The potential for snitch program abuse seems rife with opportunities. Perhaps the Los Angeles City Council considered that in its deliberations? Or gave a moment's thought to a Sixth Amendment-enumerated right to confront one’s accuser…?
You can’t tell from ithe Council's published Feb. 6 agenda. In fact, it notes “None submitted” for the “Community Impact Statement.”
Nor can we glean much in the way of protections for fundamental rights and civil liberties in any of the supporting documents posted by the L.A. City Clerk. Still, an admission in the report by the Chief Legislative Analyst does contain an interesting (if unsurprising) admission:
“Despite the strength of California law related to firearms possession, gun crimes by prohibited persons are still a major problem.”
And the “progressive” L.A. “solution”?
Taking a defiant “sanctuary city” stance, naturally.
We do learn one other thing from the Council’s reports: The program is “modeled after Oxnard Police Department’s ‘Break the Silence! Stop Gun Violence!’ Program.” Perhaps the program kept Oxnard’s 2017 “spike” (while homicides for the rest of Ventura County “declined”) from being worse than it was? And coincidentally (?) that program was implemented the same year Oxnard declared itself a “sanctuary city.”
Oxnard PD doesn’t really say much about program results on either its website or its Facebook page, although it did just post a link from there to a department press release titled “Man arrested for being in possession of a concealed firearm.”
Alas, it looks like no tip is credited, but rather, “officers from the Neighborhood Policing Team were conducting a foot patrol … when they observed a suspicious subject attempting to conceal a firearm in his waistband.”
Nonetheless, the release includes a plug for Ventura County Crime Stoppers. So to find out how effective the program is — especially since Los Angeles is “modeling” their anonymous bounty effort after it — I sent the following inquiry to Oxnard PD’s designated “Break the Silence! Stop the Violence!” contact:
“Do you have numbers on how many guns have been recovered, suspects arrested, suspects prosecuted, suspects convicted, number of reward payments made and total amount of reward payments made as a direct result of tips from this program since it was initiated? To be clear, I am only looking for results directly attributable to tips for which rewards have been paid, and intend to make those results public.”
This post will be updated if and when responsive information is received.
UPDATE – Response to my inquiry from Oxnard PD:
“I am sorry I don't have good news. We have only had 3 tips since the inception and no arrests or guns recovered as yet.“With that being said, we did not push this campaign out as hard as we should have. We will probably be relaunching in a month and hope to get more play then.”
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.