Should This Tipster In The Philly Child Abduction Story Get The Reward Money He Was Promised?

April 5, 2013  |  

Well there are lots of things that snitches are said to get, but it would seem that “riches” is not one of them.

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

…Nelson Mandela Myers, answered the prayers of an entire city when he found a 5-year-old girl who had been abducted from her West Philadelphia school the preceding day. Nelson wrapped his coat around the child, whom he found shivering in an Upper Darby park, and stayed with her until police arrived. He was hailed as a hero and was promised a $10,000 reward from the city. “Mayor @Michael_Nutter, full $10,000 reward to Nelson Mandela Myers, who saw [the girl] in an Upper Darby park and did the right thing,” Mark McDonald, Nutter’s spokesman, Tweeted that day. Janie Myers thought her prayers had been answered, too. “Twenty-four hours before that I was crying and praying to God,” she said. “Honestly, that $10,000 was literally a blessing that fell out of the sky for us.”Nearly three months later, Nelson and Janie Myers have yet to see a penny of the reward money, and the young couple say their calls and emails to city officials have gone unanswered. “We’re up to our necks in bills,” Nelson said. “It’s a blessing that they’re giving me the money, but I just really can’t explain why we haven’t gotten it yet.”

Na’illa Robinson’s case made national headlines when she was abducted by a woman wearing a full face niqab from the Bryant Elementary School in West Philadelphia. Myers, who was on his way to work, found the five-year-old girl, half-dressed, hiding underneath playground equipment (it would be later reported that Robinson had been held captive and sexually assaulted before escaping to the playground). Nelson promptly called the police and it was his tip, which helped to reunite Robinson with her distraught family.

This is not the first time in recent months reports have surfaced about the complications, which sometimes arises around the payout of reward money. Just last year, the Daily News reported on the story of a deceased Kensington man, who was murdered in the streets before he could fully collect on the reward money he was promised in exchange for his tip, which lead to the capture of a serial murderer known locally as the Kensington Strangler. The tipster’s family said that since the city and local crime commission had already promised him the loot once the strangler was convicted, the unpaid $30,000 should be given to his next of kin, which is his 23-month-old son. However, the city has been dodging their calls and the local crime organization is saying nope, sorry, the reward is not “ hereditary.

And multiple city and law enforcement agencies in California are still trying to determine if they should pay out the more than a million dollars in reward money, which was offered during the manhunt for former Los Angeles cop-turned-cop-killer Christopher Dorner. So far, two people have come forward, but the Los Angeles Times writes, “Because Dorner elected to kill himself when cornered by police, he was neither arrested nor convicted. Some donors who pledged to the reward fund have thus elected to back out of their pledges.”

My quick research didn’t reveal much in the way of how often of an occurrence these instances are, where rewards are offered and then sort of reneged upon, however this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette states that while tips into Crime Stoppers USA have led to over 600,000 arrests since the program’s inception in 1976, 40 percent of those tipsters never claim their prizes. Later in the same article, the board chairman of the crime organization speculated that the “promise of anonymity is sometimes more alluring than the reward money.”

I don’t fault Myers for wanting the money or for going public about this. I would have certainly done the same thing, just out of principle. I know that doing the right thing should be a reward in itself, but I also know that no good deed goes unpunished. We can’t continue to criticize these same communities for having a culture of “no snitching” to law enforcement and yet offer them little incentive to do so. And I’m not just talking about financial incentives, but also the promise of safety, service, protection and most importantly, respect.

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