A federal agent gets killed during a road rage incident and taxpayers, via Broward Crime Stoppers, are doling out $275,000 to two tipsters who led to the arrest of the alleged shooter, James Wonder. The kicker: Wonder might not even be convicted because of Florida "Shoot First" laws that allow people to open fire when they are afraid for their lives.
Currently, a $267,000 reward is being offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of the killers of Broward sheriff's deputy Chris Reyka.
You or I get killed? Bupkus. Maybe five grand tops.
In addition to donations, a large amount of the $542,000 being offered for the killings of Pettit and Reyka is being doled out by state and federal law enforcement agencies (aka tax money).
Look, I agree that the murder of a cop is of more significance to the population than that of a regular citizen, but this is ridiculous. If you look at the Crime Stoppers website and watch the video from Sheriff Al Lamberti you would think the murder of Reyka is the only unsolved slaying in Broward County. The message: If you're not a cop, we don't really care.
This kind of thing, rightly or wrongly, plays to the worst stereotypes about the arrogance and callousness of law enforcement officers. And the fault lies with both Crime Stoppers and the contributing law enforcement agencies, who only pony up serious dough if the homicide victim wears a badge.
Bottom line is that Crime Stoppers must promote the cause of more victims than just Reyka. And it needs to find a more equitable way to dole out reward money. On top of that, taxpayers should demand that if state and federal law enforcement agencies want to put their money toward a reward for a slain officer, a sizable percentage of the contribution should be spread out over other cases.
Think about it. If there was a $100,000 cap were put on rewards -- a fine amount, especially in these tough times -- then there would be $342,000 left over from the Reyka and Pettit rewards to be spread out over other cases. There are probably better ideas (I'm just spitballing here) but there's got to be a better way for Crime Stoppers to do its job.