Combating the 'No Snitch' Mindset

When faced with troubled areas....a different approach to marketing your volunteer unit could be as simple as a name change.


Regardless of what you call your volunteer unit, if their purpose is to patrol and report suspicious activity and/or assist your officers with non-enforcement duties, they will in fact do so. However providing a softer and less threatening name can provide a certain level of credibility to the individuals who are performing the functions, which in turn leads to a certain level of respect, which in turn can help assist in the recognition and retention of the individuals. Not feeling singled out by their peers as "police in hiding" may also provide an incentive for members of the community to step up and perhaps join the team or at least pass on information that may help your agency to solve and prevent crimes.

When challenged with a community culture of "don't snitch," your goal should be to provide a name for you volunteer unit and volunteers that will help them integrate into the community without the fear of being labeled as "snitches" themselves, as much as that may be possible. Equally important when doing so is to help reinforce that name with substance by providing your volunteers with tools and resources that can in fact assist and support the community. Some simple resources to consider would be providing your volunteers with a list of community agencies that offer help to folks who may be having problems paying their utility bills, resolving disputes with neighbors and landlords, finding educational programs to increase their self-worth and more. Other ideas may include providing your volunteer units with donated child safety car seats, and/or bicycle helmets for families that may not otherwise be able to afford them. Other items to consider may be new donated basketballs, footballs and games to give children in the community something constructive to do, rather than just hanging out on the street corner. Doing so will help your volunteers "walk the walk" if challenged by their peers to demonstrate how they are "assisting and supporting" the community versus "working for the police." In the end, your volunteers can help to establish long term bonds that will help bridge the gap between your agency and the community.

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