Cracking the code of silence
Is a code of silence blocking justice in several South Bend homicides?
So far this year there have been twelve of them in the city.
And Tuesday, police reminded residents to say something if you see something, because your voice could save lives.
“How are you going to look at yourself in the mirror knowing that a little kid just got killed and yesterday you could’ve told me who the real killer was and could’ve put that person in jail?” said Commander Tim Corbett of St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit.
It’s a sobering reality replayed far too often for the many men and women in blue:
A life is taken, a neighborhood is shaken, but folks that might know something stay out of it.
“There’s a general frustration, people think that because it didn’t happen to them then it’s none of their business,” said Corbett. “Well it may not have happened to them today but it could happen to one of their loved ones tomorrow.”
Last Wednesday, police tape went up on Kendall Street, the scene of an apparent shooting that left one injured and one dead.
Just four days later, the peace outside the Charles Black Recreation Cener on Washington Street was disturbed.
“Broad daylight, the middle of a parking lot, you don’t get much bolder than that,” said Corbett.
A parking lot shooting took another life.
It was the twelfth death in a homicide this year.
“It’s not a great thing, you do not want crime in your community,” said Ken Garcia of South Bend Police.
That’s an alarming number for SBPD, and the department had a few more.
According to police, there had been 18 shootings this time last year.
Their records up till April show the city has already seen 36 shootings.
They want it to stop and they say they’re going to need your help.
“They may not want to talk to the officer on scene, they may not even want to call because they may say ‘oh did you hear what this person did’ and they feel frightened so that’s why we have Crime Stoppers,” said Garcia.
Michiana Crimestoppers reach out to 12 counties, offering cash for information when cases run cold.
“We are on track to paying out our $1 millionth dollar reward since we started in 1983,” said Kayla Miller of Michiana Crimestoppers
By the numbers, your tips helped solved 9,286 cases and 160 were murders.
The department has paid out $989,885 dollars in rewards.
But the biggest incentive, Crimestoppers say, is keeping your community safe.
“It’s not about telling or snitching, it’s about making sure you’re doing your part to give back to the community and make it a better place for everybody,” said Miller.