Why Police Partnering With The Community To Battle Crime Is Not Always A Good Idea
In response to a recent rash of violent crimes in Daytona Beach, law enforcement officials announced they would be partnering with the local community to help prevent illegal activity and bring suspects to justice. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. However, eyewitness testimony is often unreliable and could result in innocent people facing criminal charges. It can also result in vigilante justice, potentially ruining reputations and resulting in serious injuries.
Involving Community Members Could Result In Vigilante Justice
One of the ways local police are hoping to address an increase in violent crime is by seeking assistance from people in the community. According to a November 30, 2021 Daytona Beach News-Journal report, scheduled a meeting with local officials and invited residents to attend. The goal is to get them more involved in being alert to potential crimes and to encourage them to take action in helping to apprehend offenders. The idea was born out of frustration at high crime rates in certain neighborhoods but implementing it could prove problematic.
One concern is that it may encourage citizens to act as vigilantes. The Innocent Lives Foundation, which advocates on behalf of those falsely accused and imprisoned, states that vigilantism is defined as when citizens take the law into their own hands. It is an attempt to mete out justice based on the vigilante’s perception of right and wrong. Potential problems that could result include:
- The vigilante could be mistaken, resulting in false accusations;
- In their zeal to uphold the law, they could end up depriving alleged suspects of their rights under the law;
- Based on poor judgment and wrong information, they could spread rumors regarding a suspect, impacting their personal and professional life;
- In dishing out ‘justice’, they could resort to acts of violence that threaten the health and safety of all involved.
The Problem With Relying On Witnesses
Even if residents of the community do not go so far as to take vigilante actions, putting too much emphasis on statements could prove problematic as well. The National Center for State Courts warns that eyewitness testimony regarding how a crime occurred or in identifying potential suspects is notoriously unreliable. Even in cases where witnesses are confident in what they saw, studies show they are frequently mistaken.
In some cases, visual perception is to blame. Testimony may be inaccurate if the witness has even minor vision impairments, if they saw something from a distance; or if it was either dark or raining at the time. Their perception of what happened and what they saw can also be influenced by any underlying biases or prejudices they have.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have been accused of any type of crime, it is important to get Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., on your side right away. We protect your rights while providing the strong legal defense you need to avoid a conviction. To request a consultation, call or contact our Daytona Beach criminal defense attorneys online today.