By Pat Raia, [email protected]
A measure that would make it easier for tipsters to provide information to law enforcement agencies has been unanimously passed by the Florida House of Representatives.
HB 363, the Privileged Communications Made to Crime Stoppers Organizations makes it a third degree felony for anyone to knowingly obtain or disclose privileged information or communication to Crime Stoppers organizations including anonymous tips.
It also exempts from criminal liability employees, board members, or volunteers of Crime Stoppers organizations while they are acting within their duties for those organizations.
The measure cleared the House on April 15 shortly after Attorney General Ashley Moody unveiled new practices aimed at encouraging Floridians to share potentially crime-solving information with law enforcement by using the Crime Stoppers system.
In February, Moody announced that Crime Stoppers rewards to tipsters for information leading to arrests and convictions in murder cases have increased from $5,000 to $9,500. Meanwhile, rewards for information leading to arrests and convictions in other cases have increased to $5,000.
She also unveiled a first-in-the nation networking system that allows someone to call Crime Stoppers at **TIPS (8477) from anywhere in the state, and then routes the call to the appropriate jurisdiction.
HB 363 now moves to the Senate's Rules Committee for consideration.
If passed, the measure would become effective on October 1.