Bill would offer $500 reward for quality-of-life tips

City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas is planning to introduce a bill Thursday expanding the city’s reward money program.
Metro file

People could receive a reward of at least $500 for helping to catch illegal dumpers, dirt bike riders and other small-time criminals under legislation set to be introduced Thursday in City Council.

The bill would extend the city’s reward system, typically reserved for murders and select other violent crimes, to incentivize reporting nuisances that have long irked Philadelphians.

“We can’t put cameras everywhere, so the theory is to begin to activate constituents to help, to be a support system in addressing quality-of-life issues that we’re facing,” Councilmember Isaiah Thomas said in an interview.

In addition to dumping and dirt bikes, the program, known as the Citizen Watchdog Fund, would provide cash for tips about ATVs, noise violations, illegal alcohol sales and any vehicular crash resulting in injuries, according to the legislation.

The minimum reward for assistance in closing a case is $500, and the bill does not set a maximum.

Exact amounts would be determined by the Managing Director’s Office, which falls under the mayor’s administration, based on the quality of tip, severity of offense and whether the person testifies in court.

Thomas said he has not yet spoken to Mayor Jim Kenney’s office about the bill, which still needs to go through Council hearings and other legislative hurdles.

City law includes a section about reward money for people who provide information about illegal dumping; however, that program is not active, a spokesperson for the Kenney administration said.

Money for the Citizens Watchdog Fund would come from an existing pot of money used for rewards, Max Weisman, Thomas’ communications director, told Metro.

The city offers a standing $20,000 reward for tips leading to a conviction in a homicide case, and the Kenney administration last month started putting up $10,000 for information on shootings that occur within 500 feet of a school, recreation center or library.

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