ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden is hopeful a new witness protection program will help his department solve violent crimes by encouraging more people come forward.
Some of the city’s neighborhoods have a strict “no snitching” policy among residents because they fear for their safety if they cooperate with the police.
Chief Hayden says the program will allow investigators to help witnesses when they most need it, usually just after a crime and before a trial. The assistance could take the form of temporary relocation. The chief says witnesses often need a plane ticket to go stay with family so they feel safe.
The state legislature approved the new witnesses program last year during the special session but it only recently became funded. Chief Hayden thinks it could go a long way to combat violent crime.
Right now, witnesses only cooperate with investigators between 40% and 50% of the city’s homicide cases.