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Local Rep. proposes bill to end 'stop snitching' movement

(AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Florida is plagued with unsolved homicides from the panhandle to the Keys.

"We know people have seen things but they're afraid to come forward," said Rep. Ed Narain.

Narain hopes his bill puts an end to that trend. He proposed a bill that would keep witnesses' names and addresses exempt if they cooperate with police. He hopes it will end the "stop snitching" movement that prevents people from coming forward after a crime.

"That culture is keeping a lot of good people from coming out and talking to the police about things they may have seen," Narain said. "So the goal of this bill is to really try and stop that from happening."

Law enforcement in Narain's home of Tampa urged the public to help just last week in four unsolved shooting deaths. Ed Harris Sr.'s son was gunned down in May.

"I wake up every day with the sound of the gunshots and the car speeding off, knowing that those individuals are still out there," Harris said.

State attorneys say the lack of cooperation make cases difficult if they ever get to court.

"It makes it sometimes practically impossible," said Judicial Circuit State attorney Willie Meggs. "I think it happens sometimes because people are in fear of some type of retaliation if they testify."

Meggs thinks the proposal is good, but not flawless. It would allow defense attorneys to do whatever they want with the witness information once they get it. The sponsor admits public records advocates won't like it.

Information for witnesses would be available after trial if the bill were to take effect.