Monday, January 2, 2012

Stop the "No Snitch" Mentality

I hear people in the neighborhood commiserating about the shootings, the breaking and entering, the vandalism to vehicles prevalent and seeming on the rise. Many of them know who the culprits are, but when I ask them if they made a report to the police department, they hem and haw and make excuses.

The News of Cumberland County has run a few articles recently on the "no snitching" culture.

“It is the responsibility of all members of society to be witnesses if they see a crime. It’s a civic duty, and it’s necessary because if we don’t do that then we wind up where we are right now,” said Bridgeton police chief Mark Ott.

What he means by “. . .where we are right now,” is in the midst of a string of shootings that go unsolved because people, both criminals and regular citizens, will not speak to the police.
Of course with that civic duty of the residents comes an expectation that law enforcement will do its utmost to protect our privacy.

The fear that prevents people from reporting criminal activity is that of retribution. If you have small children at home, you fear for their safety. If you have a newer vehicle, you fear the property damage, the slashed tires and broken windows that all too often go unreported in the local papers. You fear that your house will be robbed when you are at work.

The fact is, the police can be everywhere, all the time. Criminals know this. The fact is that the Cumberland County Courts and the State of New Jersey will continue to refuse to treat violent offenders harshly, and the jails are a revolving door for repeat offenders. Our so-called justice system has no teeth, and the few churches and youth programs making an effort to pull even a few at-risk kids off the streets are undergoing concerted attacks to have their funding slashed by tax-reform groups. These same tax-reform watchdogs are advocating that police officers be laid-off, and that law enforcement funding be significantly reduced.

We are in the middle of a Catch-22. The only way that we can change the course is to stay the course. Make the difficult decisions and choose to be the voice of sanity for your neighborhood. You cannot change the block around the corner, but together, we can make a difference one block at a time.

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