SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Convincing more people to cooperate with a police investigation could get violent criminals off the street.

Last Thursday, WREG told you about why some believe a street code is keeping people silent. There’s a new program hoping to change that.

“Often times we are unable to pursue justice. Unable to prosecute, because no witnesses will come forward,” Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said.

She said there’s a problem with people not coming forward with critical information to help law enforcement solve a crime. They’ve tried to tempt the public, but in some cases, even a large reward for information in a child’s murder isn’t enough.

WREG Investigators uncovered data from the Memphis Police Department showing 700 homicides have been solved between 2017 and 2021. As of February, more than 500 have not.

Police have repeated one tip may be all they need to solve a case, but some believe a street code is getting in the way.

“We’ve got to get rid of this no-snitch policy,” Pastor Ricky Floyd said.

“No snitching” is a code that encourages people to not cooperate with officers when a crime occurs. Sometimes they’re afraid of retaliation or they may not trust law enforcement.

“I wondered why our community was so quiet while blood flowed on our streets like rivers,” said Dr. Bill Adkins of Greater Imani Church last summer.

Adkins donated $10,000 to help the DA’s office launch a new program called 901 WRAP, which stands for witness relocation and assistance program. The purpose is to move victims and witnesses to a safer location.

“Whether that’s moments after a crime has occurred or right now while a case is pending in the criminal justice system,” Weirich said. “Perhaps a victim or victim’s family is being threatened, intimidated.”

Weirich said in the past, her office has provided assistance on a small scale. Now, the Shelby County Commission threw in a $150,000 to the fund.

They’ve spent the last few months hashing out details and forming a team that will be on call 24-7 to assess each case

“We’ve built all that internally and then we had to turn to training the Memphis Police Department,” Weirich said.

“We’ve got to get rid of this no-snitch policy.”

Pastor Ricky Floyd

Just recently, Weirich told us officers were given training during roll call and deputies are also getting training. As of today, 901 WRAP is underway.

She said it’s all voluntary, and once the relocation happens, they will connect the witness or victim and their families to the services they need. She said they will look at each case to determine how long they offer housing.

“It depends on resources,” Weirich said — resources like funding.

In California, the state sets aside money and counties also contribute. In the fiscal year of 2018-2019, the program in California opened 149 new cases statewide, helped 159 witnesses and their families and in turn, got testimony against 355 violent offenders in mostly gang related and high-risk crimes.

The Department of Justice has encouraged witness relocation programs like 901 WRAP according to a report, stating “the stop snitching message often takes hold,” because people don’t think “the justice system can protect them.” People will “be willing to cooperate if they feel safe”

“If we can make witnesses to crime feel a little more comfortable, reporting what they know, that helps law enforcement solve cases and make arrests,” Weirich said.

You can donate online or send checks to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.