WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County residents can now help bust drug rings in their neighborhoods anonymously with just a few clicks on their cell phone - and get as much as a $2,500 reward.
The new tipster reward initiative, announced at a press conference in Pelham on Tuesday morning, will give New York residents further incentive to report the sale and distribution of drugs, namely heroin, to the police, by offering cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests and convictions.
By either calling their tip line or using their new app, tipsters will have the ability to provide the police with information 24/7. They will be assigned a confidential ID number so they can continue to work with police and collect their reward later on. Rewards can range from $500 to $2,500.
NYS Police Captain John Ryan, who oversees the Troop K Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said the tips are handed down from state police intelligence to local law enforcement usually within 24 hours.
New York City cases will be excluded from the program, though associated authorities will have access to the information.
According to Bob Pavone, Chairman of NYS Crime Stoppers, usage of app is untraceable, and the call center associated with the hotline is located in Canada, where it is immune from subpoenas by the United States.
Westchester County Police Captain Christopher Calabrese said the high increase in heroin usage over the past couple of years in Westchester has resulted in many deaths, particularly those of young adults.
"I've seen first hand the kind of pain and suffering heroin has brought to families, oftentimes tearing them apart," he said.
Calabrese told Daily Voice that over the past two years, heroin and prescription drug abuse have become "countywide and statewide," co-morbid issues that affects all socioeconomic classes equally.
"Heroin has become the drug of choice for younger people, which is fueled by the fact that many are already addicted to prescription drugs," he said. "The availability of those drugs has decreased, so many have morphed from those drugs to heroin. Heroin is purer these days, and it's also mixed with other drugs, so it is more lethal now than ever."
Anyone with tips can reach the hotline at 1-800-313-TIPS or download the app on their smartphone.
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