COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus police say with homicides in the city, investigators often have a hard time getting people with firsthand information to come forward, and say it is a culture that needs to change.
People who have violent pasts who used to be caught up in trouble themselves are now working to end the violence.
As for people not coming forward, they said it’s all about being worried about their own safety.
“If you want your people to do better, you got to show them better,” said Sean Stevenson, founder of the group End The Violence.
Stevenson is doing what he can to try to make Columbus safer.
“I think we can get information, but we also can curb some of this violence,” he said.
Stevenson walks the streets of the city because he wants to meet people where they are. He founded End The Violence more than 10 years ago.
Stevenson also served time in prison and has a violent record of his own, and now he walks alongside others who’ve been in trouble and want to be part of the solution.
Stevenson said their pasts can help them better connect with those caught up in violence now.
“Because we understand it, these people are trying to live up the life that we were, our old behavior, and we want that to change,” he said. “This is why we changed our behavior because we want to see different.”
Stevenson wants to see more proactive work and doesn’t want to see any more lives taken.
“It was sad those young babies lost their life, I don’t like that at all,” he said of last week’s fatal shooting of two children and a young man. “When we used to be in the street, there was rules and regulations. You don’t shoot a gun around a child.”
Stevenson has heard the calls from police for people to come forward with information.
“We have been working very, very hard not just on this homicide, but on all of the other homicides, dealing with the ‘no snitching’ culture,” said Columbus Division of Police Det. Terry Kelley.
Stevenson and others with the End The Violence said in order for people to come forward, they need to feel safe.
“You’re asking them to give that information, if they have it in the first place, put themselves, their kids, their family lives in danger,” said Ephraim Washington Laidley Jr., co-executive director with End The Violence.
“I feel for the people that you’re all asking for information because when they give information, they’re not safe,” Stevenson added.
Kelley said during a press update Tuesday that people can be treated as confidential sources, but police are still looking for some key information.
Anyone with any information on any of the city’s crimes is asked to contact Columbus police at 614-645-4545 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.
Anyone with information on Tuesday’s fatal triple shooting can also share their information with CPD’s Homicide Unit at (614) 645-4730 or Det. Kelley at (614) 778-9706.