Whoever controls a geographical area will set the tone of the culture in that area. For example, some would argue that the people in the highest income brackets in America actually run the country. The idea is that they manipulate “the masses” through the media to hold on to control. If one controls what others think then they keep those people “in check” with one hand and rob them of their resources with the other. Neighborhoods and communities with high crime rates are typically controlled by criminals. Criminals set the tone of, hypothetically, a seven block radius. They don’t have television stations but they have community heralds and watchmen. Some have rappers and singers in their employment to set the record straight for the people who live and go to school in their domain. When someone “snitches” they exact punishment not only through physical reprisal but through making an example of them and ostracizing the “snitch” from the community. In order to avoid being ostracized members of the community will shrink back from being labeled a snitch by keeping pertinent information to themselves.
There are reports of changes in high-crime communities because of turnarounds in attitude toward criminals. Some citizens have decided to take control of their neighborhoods or at least make it more difficult for crime bosses to act freely and without reprisal. Some communities are even seeing grass movements of people embracing the label in efforts to stem the tide of murder and crime in their areas. Sources report amazing results and turnarounds in murder cases closed while other communities continue to suffer and decline under the pressure of crime and cultural self-destructiveness.
An example of a turned-around city would be that of the District of Columbia. D.C. was rated as having one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country and a very low homicide case closure rate. Recently, that city has seen a drop in crime and a dramatic increase in homicide case closure rates. Police attribute their successes to tipster programs designed to get individuals to reveal offenders and their whereabouts. Although the programs are driven by money as tipsters will receive upwards of $10,000 on a tip that leads to an offender the other benefits of consistent neighborhood self-monitoring are beginning to pay off. Citizens of D.C. are enjoying a time of relative peace as a community.
Conversely, the city of Detroit is at a 40% homicide case conversion rate. The police in that city cite difficulties in the initial stages of investigation in regard to community cooperation. They speak of invisible barriers and a collective silence in reporting crimes in certain areas of the city. Community activists paint a similar picture admitting a need to cooperate with the police. Detroit is a city in decline in population and standard of living. There, the criminals rule and continue to set the tone for the culture.
Some are against the idea of creating a “snitch” culture arguing that communities that build and create a culture of honoring life from within is more healthy. The idea is that these communities will come out stronger in the end and become more self-policing: not needing the help of government or outside forces to control them. Proponents of these arguments believe that the problems lie within the community itself and can only be solved when the people take up the responsibility of honoring life and cooperating with each other rather than espousing conflict. More extreme elements under this paradigm will push to avoid contact with authorities altogether citing historical records of governmental and law-enforcement abuses.
At best, this is wishful thinking. If long-shot case that there was a community uprising for peace and change there is no guarantee that that peace will last. Crime is inevitable and strong criminal elements are bound to seize control of communities that are disconnected or isolated from the authorities. One reason that this view is unhealthy is that it espouses an idea of existing outside of or in disregard of surrounding communities and government. Police and the government are resources for communities. Ideas of doing things apart from officials and authorities in the name of self-determination are short-sighted and fail to see the future of their communities with a paradigm of healthy citizenship and opportunities for children to thrive in the “outside” world. Many of the holders of this paradigm will have an “us-against-them” mentality which spawns the atmosphere hostile to the “snitch.”
If a community is to be healthy it has to be interlocked into surrounding communities and have strong bridges built into and out of it. America is made up of communities. Each of those communities must be a functional part of the larger society in order to be accepted and extended opportunity and help when needed. Snitches can be seen as agents of community improvements as bridges are built between community and proper authority.
Anderson, John (February 2007) Gang-Related Witness Intimidation National Gang Center Bulletin.
Davis, Robert C., Whitfield, Julie L. (2007) Snitches Get Stitches—Youth, Gangs, and Witness Intimidation in Massachusetts The National Center for Victims of Crime.
(April 29, 1991) Washington D.C. Heads the Nation in Murder Rates Per Capita, Report Finds, Miami Herald Retrieved from http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=MH&s_site=miami&p_multi=MH&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB34383D92A2086&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
Goldberg, Jeffrey (February 2012) Why Is U.S. Violent Crime Declining? (Part 2) Bloomberg.com Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/why-is-u-s-violent-crime-down-part-2-commentary-by-jeffrey-goldberg.html