BALTIMORE — "Don't talk to the guys in uniforms." "Snitches get stitches." We’ve all heard the saying.
The meaning of this rhyme has proven to be much more than words, and it makes solving crimes much harder.
Alice Oaks doesn’t want to hear that.
“My first son was murdered 2008. My second son was murdered May of 2014,” Oaks said.
When the shots ring out and the tape goes up in these communities, the cries of mothers looking at their dead child are often met by silence.
“That was devastating to me; I was so devastated that I wanted to commit suicide,” said Oaks.
She didn’t give up, instead with her organization Survivors Against Violence Everywhere she fights for justice for her second son whose killer is still free.
“The detectives know who killed them, but just getting a witness to talk, that’s the problem because no one is coming forward,” Oaks said.
Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, held a Court in the Community on Victim and Witness Intimidation on Wednesday night. She shared some of the things that her office has done like bringing in $4 million to relocate and help people who fear retaliation if they talk.
“At the end of the day, there are more of us productive citizens who want to change the trajectory of violence in our city than there are of the small number of individuals that define that negative perception,” Mosby said.
It's a culture driven by fear where a conversation with a cop will lead to you or a loved one to becoming part of the next homicide investigation.
Last year, about a third of homicide prosecution cases were dismissed due to victim witness related issues.
“Their being intimidated right in the court house, right in the court room sometimes when their on the stand,” said John Wilkinson an Attorney Advisor with Equitas. “We can keep a better eye out for intimidation. Train our courtroom security who already do a good job and already have good training to pay closer attention to subtle forms of intimidation. People who up in numbers to make it difficult to a witness to testify."
A lot of the issue is a loss of trust in the police department.
If you don't feel comfortable giving information to them, you can go directly to the State’s Attorney Office and call 877-SAO-4-TIP or 877-726-4847.