BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) Erie County is pitching in $80,000 to boost the reward fund and draw more attention to Crimestoppers. Eleven new billboards are going up around the city letting people know that their anonymous tip can lead to a cash reward of up to $7,500 if they help in the prosecution of a murder case, $5,000 if they help prosecute a non fatal shooting, or a $1,000 just for helping to get one illegal gun off the streets.

“We know it’s often difficult,” said Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive. “People don’t want to talk about this. They’re afraid of what may happen. You often heard the phrase ‘Snitches get stitches’. That’s unfortunate because it is a code that exists on the street. But we know through this program, you can anonymously let Crimestoppers know.”

It’s not even half way through the year, and so far Buffalo has 39 homicides and 122 other non-fatal shootings. “So far this year, every single homicide that has occurred in Erie County this year has occurred in the City of Buffalo,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.

The last time the homicide rate was this high was in 1994 during the peak of the gang violence surrounding convicted drug kingpin Donald Sly Green. But Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard thinks one driving force for the high crime rate this year is bail reform allowing more suspects to be free as they await trial on many crimes.

“We always note the individuals that are out on parole for gun crimes, out on the street are being rearrested, so if we don’t incapacitate the criminals, we simply have them put back on the street, not because of the people behind me but we haven’t done anything to decrease the number of people that are committing crimes,” said Sheriff Howard.

Prosecutors say Tysheim Evans, 27, had been out on bail from a previous gun charge, and is now accused of shooting two people on Sunday at Allen Burger Venture where he worked.