JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and First Coast Crime Stoppers have partnered on a new initiative, which began Thursday, to put people who commit crimes against children behind bars.
Crime Stoppers announced an enhanced reward of up to $1,000 for anyone who gives information leading to an arrest in a case involving any form of child abuse or child neglect.
"I think people are very reluctant to call about child abuse cases," said Wyllie Hodges, executive director of Crime Stoppers. "A lot of them never get reported, and especially, people in the home that know what's going on."
Hodges said offering more money on top of what Crime Stoppers usually awards for tips leading to an arrest will hopefully attract more tips.
The board of directors will meet to determine the amount depending on the severity of the crime.
In the last fiscal year, about 650 children in Duval County were removed from their homes at one point due to child abuse, according to data from the Department of Children and Families.
During Thursday's news conference announcing the initiative, News4Jax spoke with JSO Assistant Chief Brian Kee about the Sheriff's Office's transparency when it comes to Marsy's Law. He said that in cases involving minors, the Sheriff's Office can't give out that information anyway.
"With respect to domestic violence, child abuse and sex crimes, it's all protected," Kee said. "It wouldn't be released regardless before Marsy's Law."