In an effort to solve more crimes, a mid-Michigan community could soon have its own witness protection program.
“We know there's unsolved homicides and all we need is a witness to step forward,” said Flint Police Chief Terence Green.
And to make that more likely to happen, Flint is looking at starting its own witness protection program to try to stem the surge in violence that prompted it to declare a state of emergency last month.
Witnesses are often reluctant to speak with investigators out of fear.
“We often request that citizens provide information that leads to the apprehension of those responsible for these violent crimes, but in turn I think we have to show some emotional intelligence and let individuals understand that we have concerns about their safety,” Green said.
Green said times the street rule of "no snitching" often discourages witnesses from speaking out, at the expense of justice.
“I think this will send a resounding message to those individuals that we are seeking information from that we’ll do everything to protect you and your family,” Green said.
Green said there's been around 51 homicides in the city so far and a majority of those were retaliatory. He said many could be solved if someone would just speak up.
“That’s the reason why we’re going to use this witness protection program to bring those individuals forward, gain their trust and get them to provide information to bring those to justice that are responsible,” Green said.
The program, if it becomes a reality, would provide money for witness’s relocation and protection.
“We want to concentrate on these individuals that are being intimidated by cooperating, that are living in these violent high crime areas,” Green said.
Green said money for the program would come from the American Recovery Act, and he expects the program to be implemented before the end of the year.
“This is a way for us to show that we’re willing to sacrifice all of our resources in order for them to cooperate with our investigation,” Green said.