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The hunt for Christopher Dorner: Do reward offers help or hinder?

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There has been no specific research to show the effectiveness of high-priced rewards leading to arrests, says Robert McCrie, professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

“In effect, rewards like this get attention,” Professor McCrie says. “Certainly there are some people in society for whom this will be tipping inducement to pick up the phone, but nobody who follows this field is saying that this will lead to [Dorner’s] capture.”

In these high-profile cases, McCrie says, law enforcement officials want to show aggrieved families and communities the extent they are willing to go in order to bring the wanted person into custody.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said the $1 million reward is the largest ever offered in the Los Angels area, and the main reason for the high reward is to prevent further violence.

“Every day that Dorner is loose … an attack on either a uniformed police officer or a family of a police officer is likely,” Beck said at a press conference on Sunday. “That's why we rush to make this offer.”

As in the Dorner case, law enforcement agencies offer large rewards for high-profile criminals. Currently the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list includes rewards ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.

The highest reward offered for a domestic fugitive – $2 million – was for James “Whitey” Bulger, a former Boston gangster who had been on the run since 1996.

He was arrested June 22, 2011, two days after the FBI had unleashed a nationwide publicity campaign that led to a tip about his whereabouts. Mr. Bulger’s trial is scheduled to begin in Boston in June. He is charged in connection with 19 murders.

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