Saying "money is a great motivator," the Illinois State Crime Commission is launching a program that offers a $1,000 cash reward to anyone who provides police with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a heroin dealer who sells to juveniles in DuPage County.
The aim is to make dealers uneasy about selling drugs in DuPage County, therefore making it more challenging for teenagers to buy the highly addictive drug.
"We want to save the families. And we're willing to spend the money," ISCC Executive Director Jerry Elsner said Tuesday. "It's no longer, 'Oh, poor us.' We're going on the offensive. We're not going to sit back and take it."
The rewards will be funded solely by private donations, Elsner said.
To make a report, people should call their local police department and mention the ISCC's Heroin Reward program. The identity of the person reporting the information will be protected, Elsner said.
While heroin is a problem across the Chicago area, this new program is being done on a trial basis in DuPage County only. Elsner said that's because it's a "controlled environment" and familiar territory for the ISCC, which started out as the DuPage County Crime Commission. If it's successful, Elsner said the group is open to expanding it to other counties.
"You want to make sure the program is going to work," Elsner said. "We want to make this a successful program. We want to make the cost of business so high in DuPage County, no one will do it."
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin learned about the program just Tuesday and said he fully supports it.
"It is a good idea. We've seen rewards offered in all kinds of cases, and oftentimes they're successful," Berlin said. "It has been a really effective tool for getting drunk drivers off the road. I would expect that it's going to be successful with drug dealers, too."
Elsner said the crime commission offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the killer in a grisly 1995 Addison murder, in which an unborn baby was cut out of the victim's womb, and the phone immediately started ringing with key information for police.
"Money is a great motivator," he said.
The idea to do this came after Elsner spoke to a West suburban father whose daughter got hooked on heroin by her older boyfriend.
"These are not your typical drug dealers," he said. "They're not your West Side drug dealers or your South Side drug dealers. These are very educated people living in nice homes in our communities. In blue blazers and khaki pants. They look like little Harvard wannabes, but they're killers."
For more details, see illinoiscrimecommission.com.