In an opinion piece published by the Toronto Sun after Toronto’s most recent day of violence, one columnist wrote that it’s time to make snitching cool, and profitable.
Crime specialist Joe Warmington is calling for a ‘snitch-fund’ that will make turning in perpetrators of violent crime a lucrative business.
“Give them some incentive,” he said in an interview with the Toronto Observer. “Even the gangsters (need an incentive) to tell on each other.”
Warmington’s logic is quite simple; this year alone in the GTA there remain more than 20 unsolved murders on local police books, he said.
What really inspired Warmington’s call was a scene he witnessed while at the Sept. 16 shooting outside the Bendale Business and Technical Institute. There, Warmington watched as some of the youth nearby called out to others, urging them not to snitch
He wrote, “…some young hoods of several racial profiles stood at the exit point and shouted “no snitching, no snitching”. Warmington said the youth who were shouting were trying to prevent others from talking to police and the media.
Crime prevention officer Constable Gary Gomez, of Toronto’s 42 Division, said there is a fundamental difference between snitching and doing-the-right-thing.
Snitching is when a person gets caught and discloses information about an accomplice for personal benefit, he explained.
On the other hand, when a person witnesses a crime and reports it to Crime Stoppers or the police, that is not snitching, Const. Gomez said: “It is called, doing-the-right-thing,” he added.
But, doing-the-right-thing may not be as simple as it sounds. Paul Maurutto, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto said there are ‘multiple and complex reasons’ why youth are reluctant to snitch.
Those reasons include fear of being labelled a ‘rat’ to fear of reprisal against oneself or family members to being rejected or excluded from a group, Prof. Marutto said.
Professor Julian Tanner, also a sociology professor at the U of T and a co-author of a report on youth crime backs that point of view.
“The most important reason we found is that they didn’t want to upset their parents and (had a) fear of being grounded,” he said.
Tanner also added, some students find it too trivial or think they can take care of the issue themselves while others don’t report crime due to a fear of having their own criminal activity exposed.