Mass shootings, [social scientist Tom Scott] added, tend to lack “solvability factors,” including cooperative witnesses.
“Agencies … prioritize cases they are most likely to solve,” Scott said.
Yet law enforcement tends to respond to spiking violence by adding beat cops instead of detectives.
More robust investigations where officers make concerted efforts to find and interview witnesses can help foster the community trust needed to get more cooperation, Scott and other experts believe.
The Chicago Police Department’s efforts to crack cases have long been hampered by its strained relationship with the communities ravaged by gun violence, areas that have been over-policed and are predominantly Black and Hispanic. In those areas, fear of gangs and distrust of police has created an atmosphere that discourages cooperation, or snitching, striking fear in residents who may otherwise help investigators.
[Brendan] Deenihan, the chief of detectives, also noted the lack of cooperation from the “intended targets” of the shootings. Supt. David Brown asserted the culture of silence effectively perpetuates a cycle of violence and emboldens those carrying it out.
“People are not cooperating who are victims, which signals to us, ‘We want revenge, and we don’t want police solving this case because we want revenge, we want to retaliate,’” Brown said during a news conference on July 22, a day after three mass shootings within a four-hour span left two teens dead and at least 17 others wounded.
“That signals to us, when you don’t cooperate, when you are silent, that you prefer street justice,” Brown added. “Street justice is never-ending. The appetite for revenge is never satisfied. It only harms. It only ruins your community.”
— Tom Schuba and Andy Grimm in Over 1,000 victims, 126 dead, just 2 convictions: 6 years of mass shootings in Chicago