Stop Snitching

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

What's called a "Stop Snitching" sentiment is spreading throughout cities like Waco, Austin, and Dallas. 

It's a gang-initiated campaign that started in New York a couple years ago trying to intimidate witnesses from coming forward with information. 

This is a growing problem in many areas in Texas, but not here in the Permian Basin.

Authorities say, crime here in West Texas is among the lowest in the state partially due to people who are willing to help them solve crimes.

"We can't be everywhere, all the time," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said.

Sheriff Painter says residents coming forward with information about criminal activity is crucial to keeping our community safe.

"Without citizen involvement, we would be up a creek," Painter said.

The gang-initiated "Stop Snitching" campaign has penetrated areas all over the U.S., but not here.

"In our community, you simply have a lot of people who want to do the right thing," Susan Rogers with Odessa Crimestoppers, said.  "If they witness something, they're willing to go forward and do that, give that information to law enforcement."

"I think we have an exceptional group of people, we're much better off than Austin or Houston or Dallas or Ft. Worth," Painter said.

West Texas has seen it's fair share of gangs, but because so many witnesses have come forward those problems haven't lasted. CrimeStoppers is one program that allows witnesses to share information and stay anonymous.

"Our job, our number one job is to protect the person that gives us that information, because we want the public to continue to call," Rogers said.

But what motivates our neighbors to cooperate?

"A lot of it is the money," Rogers said. "We offer the reward, so that's available to them. The sheer fact that they can stay anonymous, and CrimeStoppers informants are protected by State Law. It's the only program set up that way."

But that's not the only reason.

"We have about 30 percent or so that call CrimeStoppers don't even take the reward," Rogers said. "They're not there for the reward, they're just there to do the right thing to give us the information so it can get solved."

Sheriff Painter says that just because you call their office to report a crime doesn't necessarily mean you'll end up having to testify in court as long as you can provide probable cause. 

Crimestoppers does promise if you call them with information, your identity will remain completely anonymous. 

It's becoming increasingly important to solving crimes, they get about 50 to 80 calls each month.