"Say nothing, no matter what happens. You understand? You don't ever talk to the cops." Henry Rollins' Neo-Nazi implores his son before being shot to death in Sons of Anarchy.Last year I was assigned to a report of youths stealing political signs from front yards. After walking the neighborhood, I discovered the signs stacked into a nearby backyard. I knocked on the door and informed the residents of the crime and the clear evidence in their backyard. The parents of the two high school aged brats who lived in the quite posh home told me their sons would make no statements and they would have their lawyer contact the police. Fortunately, for me the problem didn't become a big pissing match, because the community members merely wanted their signs back and (of course) couldn't be hassled to sign complaints against the two hoodlums.
That relatively minor incident highlighted two important things to me: 1) People no matter what their income don't want to help solve and deter crime and 2) Parents instill an obstructionist mind set into their children by hampering police officers rather than let their loved one face any consequence for their actions. Incidentally this is also why Police Officers don't cross the Thin Blue Line and rat out one another because they know the officer will receive no sympathy or clemency from the public. (Us and Them...)
However, as a recent Chicago Tribune article highlighted an unfortunate number of people still hold to the street's code of silence.
Teens say they won't talk to law enforcement for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they fear reprisal. They may know the person suspected of a crime, or they may have a criminal history of their own. Sometimes they're just mistrustful of police. "Being labeled a snitch carries a price," Julie Whitman, author of the study "Snitches Get Stitches said. "Not just of potential violence, but ostracism by neighbors and peers."Despite Whitman's list of the commonly accepted factors why the public are tight-lipped it appears to me that the overarching reason the public don't inform more often, even after a horrible crime has been committed, is that Snitchin' is somehow wrong. The recent abduction and murder of 12 year old Jahmeshia Conner, prompted Chicago Mayer in perpetuity Richard Daley to state, "It drives home that silence is unacceptable. We're asking the community, the police are, but there's no response in the community on that child."
However, the clear problem is for me is the people who want you to never talk to the police are criminals. The drug pushers, thieves, burglars, rapists, spousal abusers and murderers. And while they may convince you that your interests align in a specific instance, p.o.s. criminals are the only ones who benefit when people don't tell the cops who did the drive-by shooting, who's pulling residential and car burglaries and who's pushing the fentanyl laced heroin...
It strikes me that the creation of large impersonal metropolitan cities and the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese are related to the stop snitchin' ideal as humans have the essentially tribal a priori mindset of our recent ancestors still hardwired into our limbic system.