“Stop snitchin'” once meant “don't tell on others if you're caught committing a crime.” CBS News’ “60 Minutes” says it has come to mean something much more dangerous: “don't cooperate with the police – no matter who you are.” Witnesses are not coming forward. Murders are going unsolved. Says the program: “Fueled by hip-hop music, promoted by major corporations, what was once a backroom code of silence among criminals, is now being marketed like never before.” “When I was growing up, kids used to talk about snitching. It never extended as a cultural norm outside of the gangsters,” says Geoffrey Canada, a nationally recognized educator and anti-violence advocate. “It was not for regular citizens. It is now a cultural norm that is being preached in poor communities.”
Nationwide, police are able to arrest solve about 60 percent of homicide cases. Criminologist David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice says in some neighborhoods the rate is much lower: “I work in communities where the clearance rate for homicides has gone into single digits.” “In these neighborhoods, we are on the verge of, or maybe we already have lost, the rule of law,” Kennedy says. The snitchin’ credo is not just a product of hip hop music. Nor are people simply afraid to come forward. As Kennedy sees it, the root cause is a long-standing belief that law enforcement is the enemy. Kennedy says that's partly because of police tactics used to fight the war on drugs.