Tight Lipped: Uncooperative Witnesses Hinder Many Police Investigations

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UPDATED: Tuesday August 12, 2014 6:36 PM

Uncooperative witnesses can hinder a police investigation.  It occurs in many investigations, including this week, when officers tried to question several witnesses in the shooting death of a teen in North Linden, but no one wanted to talk.

When witnesses are reluctant to talk - as officers found in Monday’s shooting at 25th Avenue and Hamilton Avenue - police work can get slowed down.

“An eyewitness can really lead us in the right direction,” says Commander Kelly Weiner of the Columbus Police.  “If nobody's willing to say anything, we may be stuck; we can only knock on so many doors.” 

The problem of people not wanting to talk to police officers at a crime scene is not unique to the Linden area of Columbus - it happens all over town.  In the words of one of the neighbors 10TV spoke with, “snitches get stitches.”

Neighbor Lawrence Fluellen says residents are sometimes scared to talk to police.  “(They think) that something might happen to them or their families - or consequences in general from local gangs and stuff like that.”

However, police say tips from the public can be vital to solving a crime. Commander Weiner says that's one of the reasons law enforcement was able to bring down the notorious Short North Posse gang this summer. Tips from the public brought in leads that turned into arrests.  “Sometimes all it takes is one person with a little information (and) we can take it and run with it,” Weiner adds.

She says people can call in a tip anonymously without anyone knowing where it came from and it can make all the difference on whether bad guys get locked up or go free. 

Still, for some living in the shadow of neighborhood violence, staying out of it is easier to do. As one resident told me, “I don't want to take the risk of putting my life and my family's life in jeopardy.”

If you have tips about a crime committed in your neighborhood, call 614-461-TIPS.

However, police say tips from the public can be vital to solving a crime. Commander Weiner says that's one of the reasons law enforcement was able to bring down the notorious Short North Posse gang this summer. Tips from the public brought in leads that turned into arrests.  “Sometimes all it takes is one person with a little information (and) we can take it and run with it,” Weiner adds.

She says people can call in a tip anonymously without anyone knowing where it came from and it can make all the difference on whether bad guys get locked up or go free. 

Still, for some people like Lawrence Fluellen who is living in the shadow of neighborhood violence, staying out of it is easier to do.  “I don't want to take the risk of putting my life and my family's life in jeopardy,” he says.

If you have tips about a crime committed in your neighborhood, call 614-461-tips.

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