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Mistrust of Law Enforcement: Implementing Strategy to Combat Snitching in the Inner-City

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Mistrust of Law Enforcement:

Implementing Strategy to Combat Snitching in the Inner-City

Alex Santos

Writing 1150, Section 86

Professor Klinger

December 5, 2007

Mistrust of Law Enforcement:

Implementing Strategies to Combat Snitching in the Inner-City

The "Stop Snitching" campaign, initiated by African-Americans of the inner city, is more than a slogan, it is a way of life. It is a "business but it's still also a code of ethics," as told to Anderson Cooper (2007) by rapper Cam'ron speaking for the hip-hop world, a very representative group of the inner city community. This campaign has brought national attention to the crises law enforcement is facing in the inner city, most importantly the mistrust between the two. Although the negative connotations, its prevalence keeps growing as the media continues to glorify the ghetto culture. The mass commercialization of this highly marketable gangster lifestyle catapults this snitching controversy to a platform never before seen in this country.

A no snitch rule is a necessary but self-destructive tool for the inner city. This self-destruction can only be reversed if a structured plan can be executed aimed to combat these crises. This plan must be "faced" as strategy coming from within the community, even if grants come from the outside. Reform from the outside is ineffective because directing funds can be a problem, like the welfare system, which only extends the situation of plight instead of actually fixing it.

A feasible solution is to minimize anti-snitching publication in the media as well as practice amongst its listeners while also reforming law enforcement to have a more trusting presence in the inner city. Creating a communal policing force, spreading the influence of spirituality, regulating what the media promotes by the FCC, and allowing more grants directed to the inner city can achieve a mutual trust between the residents of the inner city and law enforcement.


African-Americans living in destitution have concentrated the inner city, living by a crude "street code" based on accumulating respect in the community. Charis E. Kubrin (2005), a PhD in sociology, remarks, "Black youth in disadvantaged communities have created a local social order complete with its own code and rituals of authenticity." Accumulating respect is brought by following these orders, which range from showing off wealth, having sex with a lot of women, using retaliation as tool to get ahead, and especially, not snitching to the police. Kubrin goes on to say, "at the top of the hierarchy is the 'crazy,' 'wild,' or 'killer' social identity." This not only proves the corruption of the social order, it breeds a primal and backwards lifestyle for it's individuals.

Not snitching is deeply rooted in the street code, which dictates uncooperative behavior with law enforcement at all times. Elijah Anderson, author of Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community, says that individuals of the inner city "tend to be weary of the police, in part because of concerns about racial profiling and the possibility of being wrongfully accused" (as cited in Kubric, 2005). Ronald Weitzer and Charis E. Kubrin go on to say that in instances where police intervention was needed, "problems confronting the residents were often resolved informally--without calling the police...even when the 'solution' was retaliatory killing" (as cited in Kubrin, 2005). Coupled with the fear of retaliation, there is a fear of being charged with a crime not even committed. This traps an individual from both sides, constricting him not to snitch.

Outlawing snitching is a way to "police our own neighborhoods, " says rapper Cam'ron, (Cooper, 2007). However, in the inner city, retaliation "is considered an appropriate reaction to crime, not a crime itself" (Kubrin, 2005). Having residents be their own policing force when they themselves view retaliation as a non-crime and snitching as a crime can completely shatter the community's sense of justice.

The social order of the inner city is not the only factor to blame for this "silence." The rules of the street dictate that if you see a crime being committed, just turn around and act as if nothing happened (Kubrin, 2005). Due to the fear of being wrongfully accused, it can be justified. On top of that, there is the issue of police brutality. There have been countless incidents involving law enforcement aggressively over-policing African-Americans, and for the most part, the officials were exempt from criminal charges (Stoutland, 2001). One notable incident was the 1992 beating of Rodney King by a group of policeman. There is also a prevalence of racial profiling on the force. Police tend to over-police due to the lack of cooperation they get from the community. "Driving while black" is a generalized but relevant phenomenon, where black men are constantly held under suspicion based on the color of their skin by police (Kowalsi & Lundman, 2007). Both sides are guilty and the only way to derail the cycle of mistrust is to publicly acknowledge what needs to be done and implement reform.

Possible Solutions

The relationship between the police and the residents of the inner city proves that both sides are exhibiting wrongful behavior. The situation will continue to grow worse if there is not adequate reform. Is there a way to reform the inner city to match the standards of justice the nation values so highly? Are there ways to change policing tactics for law enforcement to have a healthier presence in today's inner cities? What can the media do to bring stability to this relationship?

What has gone awry in the inner city's attempt to "police their own neighborhood" is seen through the damages on the individual, communal, and national scale.

Reform for the Individual

Residents of the inner city view the police with a certain disdain and fear that they will be subjected to unnecessary and undeserved abuse. Continual reporting of police brutality towards African-Americans and strong evidence supporting the notion of racial profiling by



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