What is the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline?

A 2020 Crime Stoppers poster in Brooklyn.

(CNN)For decades, New Yorkers have contributed to thousands of arrests in suspected homicides, assaults and robberies by reporting information to the Crime Stoppers hotline. On Wednesday, a suspect became one of the latest tipsters, sources told CNN.

Frank James -- the man suspected of opening fire in a Brooklyn subway station Tuesday morning -- called in to let police know he was at a McDonald's on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, according to two law enforcement sources who spoke to CNN. While police did not find James at the McDonald's, they quickly found him close by and arrested him without incident.
The Crime Stoppers hotline was created so city residents could share information about crimes anonymously -- and get rewarded for successful tips. Here's what we know about the initiative.

      What is Crime Stoppers?

        It's a decades-long partnership between the NYPD and the New York City Police Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to support the NYPD, according to the foundation's website.
          Crime Stoppers offers up to $3,500 in cash rewards for anonymous tips that lead to an arrest and indictment for a violent felony.
          The program says that tips are anonymous, telling tipsters on its website that Crime Stoppers will never ask for their name, record their call, or track or trace phone numbers or online submissions. The program also says people who send in tips will not have to give a police statement or appear in court.
          It seeks information about violent crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, robbery and shootings, though the hotline says it is "always willing to receive tips related to any type of crime."
          Crime Stoppers lists violent crimes that the NYPD is seeking tips for on its "Wanted Page," which provides information including video, pictures, an address and a description of the incident.

          How does it work?

          People with information on a violent crime can call the hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, submit their tip through an online form or the CS-NYC mobile app.
          Tipsters have the option to submit details like names of potential suspects, license plate numbers and drug activity. They can also upload videos, pictures, audio or documents that may be relevant to the search for a suspect.
          In 2019, the initiative also launched an app where users can see wanted posters and submit information.
          Once the information is submitted, tipsters should receive a reference number and can call back to follow up after a week, the program's website says.

          Where does the money come from?

          The NYC Police Foundation funds Crime Stoppers, administers the rewards and promotes the program through public awareness campaigns, according to the foundation's website.
            The foundation says the program "cannot be funded through traditional police resources" in order to ensure caller anonymity and maintain the rewards. The nonprofit instead relies on donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to fund the program, it says.
            Since its inception in 1983, Crime Stoppers has distributed over $2.7 million in rewards, according to the Police Foundation's 2021 annual report.