Without witnesses, police can’t solve homicide or drug cases quickly. In Austin, police and residents say fear that people who cooperate with police will be viewed by their neighbors as snitches is affecting investigations more frequently, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Investigators call those who give them information in exchange for avoiding prison time confidential informants. The word “snitch” gives them pause. “The only people who call it snitching are crooks talking to crooks,” said retired homicide commander Harold Piatt.
Convicted criminals and everyday citizens seem familiar with an anti-police “Stop Snitching” sentiment that has become widely popular in recent years. The phrase started spreading a few years ago when Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony urged people to stop cooperating with police on a DVD that spawned “Stop Snitching” T-shirts and Web sites. The National Center for Victims of Crime released “Snitches Get Stitches,” a study documenting the difficulty police departments have getting young people to help them solve drug and gang cases. The “Stop Snitching” sentiment is considered a direct consequence of police investigations of drug- and gang-related crimes in urban communities, said Alexandra Natapoff, a national informant expert and Los Angeles-based law professor.