The fight in fighting crime

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It's a problem that Birmingham police deal with often: How do you get information from witnesses when they are scared to talk out for fear of retaliation?

"People are afraid. There is no question about that. They are afraid to approach. They are afraid to give information. They are afraid to let people know who they are," said Gerri Robinson, Fairview Neighborhood Association President.

Forty-one-year-old Jeffery Tubbs was shot to death in Robinson's neighborhood Wednesday evening. It was one of three homicides in Birmingham that day.

"They're afraid to even make a phone call now because people see your phone number on a caller ID. They don't only come after the person, they'll come at your family," said Robinson.

"We do understand they are concerned," said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper.

However, Roper says fear of retaliation is not the only problem.

"The other challenge is it takes so long for cases to go to court.  And so people will either change their minds even if they've assisted us initially and they back out.  And sometimes they decide, well we'll just take this out on the street," said Roper.

It's a Catch 22. Without information, police can't put the bad guys away, and with the bad guys still out on the street the crime and violence continue.

"Even if you won't give us your name, at least care about your neighborhood, your community, your fellow neighbors enough to at least get the information to us," said Roper.

As for Robinson, she believes if change is going to happen, people in the entire city, not just one community, have to take a stand.

"We've got to get the residents more involved. But you got to make these folks feel safe or they won't do it," she said.

Copyright 2017 WBRC. All rights reserved.