Frequently asked questions
Spotlight on Crime is a reward fund that focuses exclusively on helping statewide law enforcement agencies solve violent crimes in Minnesota. It is a unique public-private partnership between Minnesota's business community and the state's crime fighters. Since June 2001, Spotlight on Crime has offered more than $1.4 million in rewards for information on 26 cases.
What is the criteria for selecting cases?
Cases to receive Spotlight on Crime funds are selected if there is sufficient reason to believe that a significant reward could help prompt a witness or someone with information on the incident to step forward and provide law enforcement with useful clues to help solve the crime.
Why was Spotlight on Crime created?
Money is an effective tool to encourage a witness or someone with information to come forward and share the information with law enforcement officials investigating a criminal case. A substantial reward may encourage witnesses to step forward and share information. It also creates publicity around a case that can lead to new witnesses and information.
Why is Spotlight on Crime Important?
There are many heinous criminal cases in Minnesota, some involving children and senior citizens, which have remained unsolved for years. In many of these cases witnesses have been unwilling to step forward. Spotlight on Crime seeks to help solve these cases. Projects like Spotlight on Crime provide Minnesota's criminal justice system with the tools they need to make Minnesota a safer place to live.
How are cases selected?
Each case must first meet the criteria required for consideration of Spotlight on Crime reward funds. The Spotlight on Crime Advisory Board periodically receives summaries of potential cases to consider. After reviewing each case, the advisory board makes its selection. The criteria that govern how cases are selected and the amount of money to be offered as a reward are:
- Only violent crimes against innocent victims, such as homicides or abductions, are considered.
- Rewards are only offered when most accepted investigative efforts have been exhausted.
- The law enforcement agency and the adjoining prosecuting authority (e.g., county attorney and the county sheriff/local police department within the county) concur that reward money has the likelihood of providing resolution to a particular unsolved case.
- The law enforcement agency and the prosecuting authority must jointly request a reward and submit a case before the Spotlight on Crime advisory board for review.
- The advisory board, by a majority, determines the amount of the reward, the amount of time the agency could offer the reward and the manner and circumstances for which the reward could be utilized.
- The advisory board determines the criteria that must be met before payment is made.
How is the amount of reward money determined for each case?
The local prosecutor and law enforcement officials representing the case make a reward request based on what they believe will attract people with information to come forward. The Spotlight on Crime Advisory Board carefully reviews each case and determines the actual reward amount based on the specific characteristics of each case.
How is the amount of money given to someone who provides law enforcement with information on a case determined?
The Spotlight on Crime Advisory Board determines the amount of reward money paid to informants based on the value their information provides in solving the case. The designated reward amount in each case may be offered for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for committing the crime in question.
In addition to providing additional reward money, what else will Spotlight on Crime provide to these cold cases?
The Spotlight on Crime reward money will generate renewed interest in cases that previously had been cold. In addition to the reward money, there is an effort to increase the visibility of these cases through the media in hopes of reaching people who may have information to help solve the crime. Announcement materials are distributed to local, statewide and select national media.
Who is involved in the administration of Spotlight on Crime?
Spotlight on Crime partners, who each have a seat on the fund's advisory board, include the Minnesota Business Partnership, a business representative who has contributed to the fund, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota County Attorney's Association, Minnesota Sheriffs Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and victims' rights advocates. The board consists of the following people:
- Commissioner John Harrington, Minnesota Department of Public Safety
- Superintendent Drew Evans, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
- Jeff Potts, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association
- William Hutton, Minnesota Sheriffs Association
- Robert Small, Minnesota County Attorney's Association, Minnesota County Attorney's Association
- Connie Larson, representing victims' rights groups
- Charlie Weaver, Executive Director, Minnesota Business Partnership
- Mark Krause, Target Corporation
How much are the rewards that will be offered?
The program requires minimal overhead costs, so virtually all of the money raised goes toward offering rewards. The amount of each reward offered by Spotlight on Crime varies depending on the criminal case in question.
What makes Spotlight on Crime unique?
The active involvement of Minnesota's business and crime fighting communities makes this program unique not only to this state, but also the nation. The concept of reward programs in Minnesota to help crime fighters solve cases is not new. However, none of these existing programs has Spotlight on Crime's long-term public-private commitment, a focus solely on violent crimes such as homicides or abductions, the level of funding and the amount of money offered as rewards. Often, after a crime has been committed in a community, local residents, businesses and organizations offer rewards. However, these types of rewards are offered on a case by case basis and have no level of consistency throughout the state.
How much funding does the program have and where does the money come from?
The goal is to create a fund of $1.5 million. Contributions come from private sources. For example, Target Corp. has committed $75,000 to the project. Other major Minnesota businesses have made contributions as well. Other donors are welcome. The active involvement of Minnesota's leading companies and contributions from foundations and individuals will help reach the funding goal.
Which companies have contributed to the Spotlight on Crime fund?
The following companies have contributed to the Spotlight on Crime fund:
- Target Corporation
- The St. Paul Companies
- General Mills
- TCF Financial Corporation
- US Bancorp
- Wells Fargo
- The Hubbard Foundation
- Deloitte & Touche
- Ernst and Young, LLP
- Liberty Diversified Industries
- Marvin Lumber & Cedar Co.
- Travelers Cos. Inc.
- Thrivent Financial
- Martin and Esther Capp Foundation
How has the fund been structured?
The Spotlight on Crime Fund is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization established by Minnesota businesses in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and state and local law enforcement officials. It is administered by the Minneapolis Foundation. Donations to the fund, which may come from any individual, corporation, foundation or other source, are tax deductible.
Who do I contact if I have additional questions about how Spotlight on Crime works?
For more information on Spotlight on Crime and how it works, contact the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 651-793-7000 or go to www.spotlightoncrime.org.
Who do I contact if I want to make a donation to Spotlight on Crime?
Donations to the Spotlight on Crime fund are welcome. To make a donation, contact the Minneapolis Foundation at 612-672-878.
Donations to the Spotlight on Crime fund are welcome. To make a donation, contact the Minneapolis Foundation at 612-672-3878.
Spotlight on Crime is a fund that provides cash rewards for information that helps solve violent crimes. It is a collaboration between members of the Minnesota Business Partnership and public safety officials.