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Thread: The Stop Snitching Phenomenon: Breaking the Code of Silence

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    Default The Stop Snitching Phenomenon: Breaking the Code of Silence

    DoJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Feb 09:

    The Stop Snitching Phenomenon: Breaking the Code of Silence
    The “stop snitching” phenomenon that has been glorified in entertainment and sports industries and is a significant issue in some law enforcement jurisdictions. The threatening nature of the stop snitching message intimidates witnesses and erodes trust between communities and police by undermining police efforts to involve communities in preventing and combating crime. This threatens police agencies’ ability to prevent and solve crime because it impedes investigations, arrests, and convictions, and could severely erode the criminal justice system. This problem exceeds the boundaries of traditional witness intimidation and is overwhelming for many police departments.

    On numerous occasions, the COPS Office has brought together federal agencies, representatives from the private sector, law enforcement leaders from around the country, and neighborhood leaders invested in their communities to explore solutions to violent crime and social disorder issues. Most recently, on March 6, 2008 in a COPS Office-supported PERF Executive Session titled “Stop Snitching: Policing in a New Era,” key stakeholders explored the issues of the stop snitching phenomenon, identified promising practices, and developed potential solutions to the problem. The discussions included innovative methods for counteracting the intimidating messages and the central role that community policing principles play in responding to this unspoken code of silence.

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Incredible...

    Just watched a report about this phenomenon on Anderson Cooper. I could not believe it. The fact that so many people could buy into this moronic concept is almost unbelievable, simply because the premise is sooooo dumb. What an absolute shame that this happens.

    Why are criminals so glorified in the inner city communities? Why do people want them protected? Is this some sort of honor thing? And most importantly, why do celebrities that have escaped the inner-cities promote this rediculous idea? They should be called out and confronted about it if they are indeed promoting it. Start with musicians and pro athletes.

    Where are the black leaders on this?
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    This is just the latest pop-culture manifestation of a long-term problem, which is the enduring, historically quite justified mistrust of the African-American poor and working-class of the police.

    People in the ghetto don't love criminals. Often there is quite a bit of fear involved. But they are from the neighborhood. Snitching means snitching on one's neighbor, or someone related to a neighbor or friend. It's not like you are giving up a "criminal" --- you're giving up someone you know. Especially for nonviolent crimes, or crimes related to the drug trade, there's not much of a personal incentive to give up anyone.

    Of course there wouldn't be a "stop snitching" phenomenon if there weren't a lot of snitches out there, the vast majority of whom cannot be confused with your average citizen. The most common snitches are, of course, those swept up for relatively minor drug offenses who try to trade out of their sentences to go up the chain.

    And there is of course the natural human response to defy authority and maintain group loyalty. Police officers are notably reticent to snitch on their corrupt and/or brutal colleagues, of course, and so are soldiers. The basic impulse shouldn't be alien to anyone here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Snitching means snitching on one's neighbor, or someone related to a neighbor or friend. It's not like you are giving up a "criminal" --- you're giving up someone you know. Especially for nonviolent crimes, or crimes related to the drug trade, there's not much of a personal incentive to give up anyone.
    According to the report I watched, the "snitcher" wasn't a local, but a person from another part of town. He was set to testify in a murder trial as the key witness, but was murdered in front of his children.

    And I disagree, I think there is major glorification of criminals in the inner-city culture. Listen to rap music sometime.

    Of course there wouldn't be a "stop snitching" phenomenon if there weren't a lot of snitches out there, the vast majority of whom cannot be confused with your average citizen. The most common snitches are, of course, those swept up for relatively minor drug offenses who try to trade out of their sentences to go up the chain.
    I happen to like snitches. I don't like criminals.

    And there is of course the natural human response to defy authority and maintain group loyalty. Police officers are notably reticent to snitch on their corrupt and/or brutal colleagues, of course, and so are soldiers. The basic impulse shouldn't be alien to anyone here.
    I fail to see the comparison. If I "snitched" on a fellow Soldier, it would be because he was doing something to jeapordize our mission or other Soldiers' lives. Not because I get satisfaction from "snitching".
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    According to the report I watched, the "snitcher" wasn't a local, but a person from another part of town. He was set to testify in a murder trial as the key witness, but was murdered in front of his children.
    I was referring to the broader cultural trend, not just a single case. In most cases, snitching will happen between people who know each other.

    And I disagree, I think there is major glorification of criminals in the inner-city culture. Listen to rap music sometime.
    Glorification of criminality in music intended for the youth market does not equate broad-based community support for criminality. The vast majority of rap music is consumed outside of the ghettos.

    The influence of rap music on criminality is radically overplayed anyway. I grew up listening to hiphop music. The time when hiphop was most positive and community-oriented was at the height of the violence of the crack epidemic during the late '80s. The rise of gangsta rap coincided with the rapid fall in crime rates in the mid to late 1990s.

    I happen to like snitches. I don't like criminals.
    The vast majority of snitches, as I said, are criminals looking to trade their associates to get out from under a charge. The stop snitching "movement", as it was, is not really aimed at the average everyday person who witnesses a crime, as these folks are rare.

    I fail to see the comparison. If I "snitched" on a fellow Soldier, it would be because he was doing something to jeapordize our mission or other Soldiers' lives. Not because I get satisfaction from "snitching".
    Exactly my point --- you wouldn't snitch for something trivial or for something that didn't affect you or your unit or your mission. The basic human impulse is to look the other way, especially if the authority figure is viewed as a member of a social out-group.

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I was referring to the broader cultural trend, not just a single case. In most cases, snitching will happen between people who know each other.
    But what about when it doesn't? Is that still considered snitching. The report I watched talked about snitching evolving recently into non-related witnesses in court cases. Maybe not where the trend started, but now that's where it's at. Any person who testifies in any court against anyone is a snitch and apparently deserves death.

    Glorification of criminality in music intended for the youth market does not equate broad-based community support for criminality.
    That maybe true, but isn't it plausible to assume that many of the extended families have a truant or two in the familiy involved in illegal activity in the ghetto. Is that an assumption that can be made? Obviously families aren't going to rat out there own, so I believe that somewhat.

    The vast majority of rap music is consumed outside of the ghettos.
    What do they listen to in the ghetto? Frank Sinatra? I think youths look up to rappers. Maybe I'm wrong. They aren't helping.


    The vast majority of snitches, as I said, are criminals looking to trade their associates to get out from under a charge. The stop snitching "movement", as it was, is not really aimed at the average everyday person who witnesses a crime, as these folks are rare.
    Apparently it's evolving past the criminal element looking to get out of a charge or make a plea deal. It's evolved to anyone that witnessed a crime. Which I don't believe it's "rare". Most crimes have victims.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    despise the "stop Snitching" phenom with a passion!!! Grrrrrr
    Understanding the history behind it does not justify it at all, period. The "stop Snitching" campaign does not just protect low level drug dealers, it protects murders, gang members and rapists. These are individuals and crimes that NEED to be caught if you want to live in a stable peaceful society.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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    Apparently it's evolving past the criminal element looking to get out of a charge or make a plea deal. It's evolved to anyone that witnessed a crime. Which I don't believe it's "rare". Most crimes have victims.
    That's the thing. I don't think this has evolved at all. Just because an old creed has gotten a three-syllable slogan and a T-shirt doesn't make it any different than what went on in the past.

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    Default Hi

    The most common summary of an incident from a shooting victim that I deal with is "I heard a shot and felt pain." Most of the victims end their cooperation there. It is not uncommon for a person to be shot in the genitils, knees, buttocks,or legs. Shootings to settle scores and humiliate.
    The supposed "code of silence" among soldiers or cops is not the same thing.
    As far as lesser crimes although the law lists the actions as a felony the State will rarely charge accordingly. The charge will become an included misdemeanor or a non prosecution/release. The crime decrease of the late 90's was a pause in the disaster. It is dangerous and time consuming to be an independent witness. Most of the victims and offenders of shootings are already convicted felons who should still be serving sentences. Parole was done away with by changing the name to supervised release. I have been involved in cases that were in court for years. I am paid for my time. The independent witness is not.

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    Default Rat Finks

    I grew up in the 60's and we had a similar event. It was called being a "Rat Fink" below is a link to explain it.Yes I and my friends built the model. I think it is an overblown media story IMO.

    tequila's comments about why and who practice the don't snitch philosophy are close to my experiences as an LE officer. Witness intimidation is the main reason the US Marshal service had to come up with the witness protection program.

    There are COIN lessons to be learned about why people will or will not be a witness or tell you about an insurgent. Fear is a very strong motivator. If a person is in fear of retaliation and you cannot protect them you will probably not have a witness.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_fink

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    I agree its old wine in a new bottle. Russian émigrés do not talk to law enforcement in Brighton Beach Brooklyn; maybe it has gotten better, but I bet the clearance rate on homicides is equal with “stop snitchin” neighborhoods.

    South Boston used to have the highest concentration of white poverty in America. Southie was a predominately Irish Catholic neighborhood that had fierce pride and loyalty; everyone was an outsider, even Irish from other neighborhoods – nobody snitched. Southie was systematically strangled, poisoned, and raped by a monster named Whitey Bulger and his gang. But he and ‘the boys’ were heroes; the irony as it turns out was that Whitey was a snitch himself. I have talked to people from Southie that have become successful professionals, about Whitey; there biggest gripe against him was not that he was psychopath who terrorized the neighborhood, but that he was “a f@&king rat”.

    This culture of silence towards outsiders is common. The Drug War just magnifies it. That the Stop Snitching has been commercialized is unfortunate; but it may bring opportunity. What if LE went the Capone angle and nailed some big name rappers on tax evasion? Are they willing to keep their street-cred or fortune? Could undercut this culture when these rappers themselves start snitching. Protecting someone from the neighborhood is honorable; protecting your accountant in Greenwich is just stupid.

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    If the laws seem unjust, poorly crafted, unevenly enforced, or too harshly enforced then the law will not have the support of the people. If the law does not have their support, then the law enforcement authorities will not get their cooperation.

    The problem is not celebrities pushing a code of silence. That is a symptom. The problem is one of perception. When you have the pop culture and the politicians telling inner city residents that the laws target them (longer sentences for "black drugs" like crack versus "white drugs") and that the police are out to get them (driving while black, etc), then the people are going to have an adversarial relationship with the police, no matter what - even if the police are trying to prevent or investigate rapes and murders. You can even see a similar dynamic on our roadways - we all know that speed can contribute to accidents and make them more deadly, but many, if not most people, deliberately violate speed limits and help others to avoid getting pulled over and ticketed. Why? Partly because they think the speed limits are too low, partly because they think the enforcement is too harsh, partly because they are special and laws shouldn't apply to them, partly because they don't see anything wrong with breaking the law, and thus they see nothing wrong with helping others to avoid detection.

    Until people stop pushing the narratives that blacks are perpetual victims of a racist nation, the "code of silence" problem will remain. Hurricane Katrina was probably the most shameful and damaging instance of this narrative being pushed in quite a while. Government incompetence was portrayed as overt racism and turned into a political issue. Being a Katrina "victim" is now yet another badge of honor that can be worn. It is sad that there are political incentives for making black Americans to the US what Palestinians are to Israel.

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    Default One Bright Spot

    When rapper T.I. was arrested on federal weapons charges part of his release was doing 1500 hours of community service. He did the vast majority of it by going to a lot of high schools and middle schools in the Atlanta area. He gave student body presentations where he said, in effect, the gangsta lifestyle was BS and they're selling you a product. He essentially called BS on the entire way of life. He has tremendous credibility with that age group and the reception was astounding. Better than 10,000 hours of public service announcements. Others I've talked to in the know say the gangsta rap/lifestyle has become a caricature of itself and is in the process of playing itself out. Also been a very small but perceptible change since BHO became POTUS.

    On the other hand, Bill Cosby tried a few years ago to do what T.I. did and pulled back a bloody stump for his trouble. He acquired a lifetime's worth of hatred and erased all prior accomplishments by giving one speech.

    Schmedlap: Amen!

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    Speaking of rappers....tequila this is for you....thought it might make a great song you could sing to the insurgents at night

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVuI-0_LwXY
    Last edited by slapout9; 05-21-2009 at 09:50 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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    Default A view from the UK

    Catching up and found this report - started to read it. Whilst many things here (UK) are different from the USA, so no commercial culture on stop snitching, I am sure echoes are found - notably in the inner-city, black communities. The Met claims that inroads have been made, under Operation Trident, their campaign against black on black shootings and members of the community have come forward. the op website: http://www.stoptheguns.org/

    Anecdote from Northern Ireland, after 'The Troubles' ended, shows that police action against regular problems, e.g. abandoned cars led to quiet community co-operation and support.

    Gaining co-operation is not limited to inner cities / poor areas / high crime areas and can be found in wealthier areas or communities like students. Perhaps the lower experience of crime, especially violent crime, contributes.

    More when report is fully read.

    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    despise the "stop Snitching" phenom with a passion!!! Grrrrrr
    Understanding the history behind it does not justify it at all, period. The "stop Snitching" campaign does not just protect low level drug dealers, it protects murders, gang members and rapists. These are individuals and crimes that NEED to be caught if you want to live in a stable peaceful society.
    Reed
    However, you clearly need to split up your treatment of the irreconcilables (murders, gang members, rapists) from the reconcilables (low level drug dealers). Just despising "stop snitching" isn't a strategy.

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    Default Stop Snitchin on Hizbollah...

    Seems like there are some strong parallels between connecting with communities in our own cities, breaking down the barriers to law enforcement, and effective counter-insurgency practice. Is the code of silence on the streets of America much different from trying to get Iraqis to point out the insurgents in their midst?

    The discussion made me think of this profile of Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets.

    "For months after last winter's PR storm, Anthony's handlers wouldn't grant interviews with him unless a reporter agreed not to ask about Stop Snitching. No more. Anthony never felt he'd done anything wrong, nothing big at least. Now, he wants to talk about where he comes from, the hand he was dealt.

    In the Pepsi Center, he sets down a PDA he has been tapping away at and leans back in his chair. "Drug dealers funded our programs," he says. "Drug dealers bought our uniforms." They were just about the only guys in the hood with the cash to outfit a team. They did it for three years beginning in late elementary school, he says, and never asked Anthony for anything in return, like carrying product. "They just wanted to see you do good."

    When the cops took over the nearby rec center and nailed a Police Athletic League sign on the front, Anthony and his friends boycotted. The goal may have been to clear out the dealers, but to him it felt like one more act of harassment, another form of bullying by some Charm City cop who doesn't especially trust loitering young black males. More than once, Anthony says, men in blue left him black-and-blue. "Nothing major," he says. "They'd just choke me, drag me around." It was enough to seal the kind of resentment that could one day lead to five minutes of face time on a fire-starter DVD."

    Not condoning it. But there are similarities between the impact of guys kicking down the wrong Iraqi door in the middle of the night looking for a guy who builds IEDs probably and grabbing the wrong guys on the street of an American city.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    An excellent book on the admittedly unique street dynamics of a Chicago housing project, which are very different from what I know in Brooklyn, NY, but gives a good insight on how police, local leaders, and drug dealers can interact in real life:

    Gang Leader for a Day

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    Is the code of silence on the streets of America much different from trying to get Iraqis to point out the insurgents in their midst?
    Absolutely not, and I've argued the same long before I knew who Kilcullen was. If you cannot protect the populace, you already have one strike against you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerguelen View Post
    Is the code of silence on the streets of America much different from trying to get Iraqis to point out the insurgents in their midst?
    The only difference that I see is that in Iraq it is political first, reinforced by culture, whereas in America it is cultural first, reinforced by politics.

    The silence on the streets in America is due more to a cultural phenomenon whereby part of the black identity - to live the true black experience* - is to identify as a victim who struggles against an unjust society. Struggling against that society is part of the identity and this behavior is fueled and exploited by political interests. The inner cities are not exclusively black, but all inner city culture seems to be heavily influenced by cultural norms that most would associate with "blackness."

    In Iraq it is political first. A power struggle is going on in the country and so long as there is suspicion that the foreign power is not an honest broker then the side who feels unfairly treated or threatened will choose to be uncooperative, passively or aggressively. Culture reinforces this political motivation because it is a norm to oppose the outsider.

    * - this issue arose in the Presidential campaign; the issue over whether candidate Obama was "black enough" was not simply due to having a white mother, but due to the fact that he had not endured poverty or lack of opportunity - he was the son of a Harvard alumnus and enjoyed the advantages of white relatives
    Last edited by Schmedlap; 05-27-2009 at 12:11 PM.

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