Criminals remain free when witnesses won't cooperate
BY KENDRICK MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 7:59 AM
Police investigations can run into roadblocks when crime victims refuse to cooperate.
The Tulsa Police Department does not keep a record of the number of cases thrown out as a result of victims failing to coming forward, but officials say providing any information can make the difference between an arrest being made and an offender staying on the street.
"If they (victims) don't come forward, the offender is given another chance to commit more crimes," Officer Leland Ashley said.
Police say fear of retaliation can make victims apprehensive about immediately filing a police report or pressing charges.
On occasion, detectives will speak with the victim during the investigation only to find the person will not identify or will misidentify the suspect who robbed, assaulted or even shot them, Ashley said.
"They are allowing someone to be a threat to society," he said.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker says additional violent crimes and even killings could have been prevented if a previous victim had spoken to the police sooner.
"Sometimes we do see that," Walker said. "It creates a problem for us."
Walker explained some victims might resist police assistance and attempt to take matters into their own hands.
"Some people like to handle it in the streets," he said. "Unfortunately, the streets can't take of it."
This mentality is prevalent among the gang culture, where a code of silence restricts any opportunity for police to track down suspects.
"It's the code of the pinhead," Walker said. "They don't want to be known as a snitch. It's about ego."
Investigators say the nine unsolved homicides since last February - such as the deaths of Shawn Banks and Jordan Sigli - can still be solved if the public reaches out to the police to provide leads.
Banks, 20, was discovered dead at the Towne Square Apartments, 1607 E. Young Place, on Dec. 25.
Sigli, 13, died two days after he was hit in a drive-by shooting May 20 outside Tanzi Sports Bar, 3205 N. Peoria Ave., where he was attending a 17-year-old's birthday party.
Arrests have not been made in either homicide.
To combat the lack of collaboration from crime victims, police have been taking a proactive approach in removing threats from the street by tracking the whereabouts and known affiliations of suspects, Walker said.
"We're taking the initiative to cut down on some of the crime and get the (offenders) off the streets," he said. "Maybe if they spend five years in jail on something else it would do some good."
Original Print Headline: Giving bad guys a pass
Kendrick Marshall 918-581-8386