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Stop Snitching Phenomenon: Breaking the Code of Silence

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2009
64 pages
This study measured the extent and effect of the stop snitching phenomenon on local law enforcement throughout the Nation.
Results indicate that the stop snitching message impedes investigations, arrests, and convictions and has severely eroded the justice system in some jurisdictions. Of the 88 respondents that the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) received, 86 percent reported the existence of some form of code of silence in their communities, with 47 percent identifying the stop snitching phenomenon specifically. Twenty-one percent of the respondents who specifically identified stop snitching indicated that the phenomenon had been present for more than a year, and had recently increased noticeably; this was attributed to the recent sales of stop snitching CDs, t-shirts, and DVDs. The stop snitching message has morphed over time; it is now commonly understood to mean that any cooperation with police is considered snitching. To reach the youth and young adult segment of the community and convince them to cooperate with law enforcement, police agencies must partner with other criminal justice agencies, with community organizations, and with other leaders to spread a positive message and reduce the fear of cooperating with police. Police must offer assistance to witnesses and assurances of safety to the community in general. The fundamental success of a police department's program will be based on its fundamental efforts to build trust in the neighborhoods, create partnerships with other criminal justice and social service agencies, and establish strong relationships with community groups and leaders. Such efforts produce the confidence that a crime victim or witness needs to come forward.