Police prosecutors must battle 'don't snitch' mentality
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté made it clear this week that he expects his department to work harder and smarter to solve nonfatal shootings, even when victims initially won’t talk to his officers. Good for him.
He wants to send more empathetic letters to victims to encourage them to cooperate. And he talked about using more unmarked cars to bring victims and witnesses in for interviews, which could reduce the chances of retaliation against them.
The Star earlier this week reported that about 60 percent of persons wounded by gunfire in 2011 did not help police pursue the shooters. Unfortunately, police did not investigate those crimes, which also meant they weren’t prosecuted. As a result, more criminals were allowed to walk the streets of Kansas City.
It’s positive that Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who met Friday with the chief, said in an interview afterward that both officials are “like-minded” in their approach to policing and prosecuting.
Both are pursuing good plans to break down the barriers of distrust that exist, especially with minority residents in the urban core, when it comes to working with law enforcement.
That’s difficult work.
It requires face-to-face meetings with residents, victims and witnesses. It requires the kind of gatherings that police officials recently had with a number of neighborhood residents about crime. And it requires police and prosecutors listen to ideas on how to do their jobs better.
It also would help greatly if more victims and witnesses rejected the “don’t snitch” mentality that stifles good communication with law enforcement officials.
Reducing Kansas City’s high violent crime rate is crucial to help attract and keep residents. Forté and Baker must stay united in working to prosecute more criminals and build better relations with residents in the future.