To thwart fear of retaliation, Legislature looks to shield murder witnesses
Someone — a child, a mother, a brother — is killed. Witnesses are too afraid to speak up. A murderer goes free.
In many of Florida’s vulnerable neighborhoods, talking to police could be a life-or-death decision for those who witness violent crime. Their reluctance to cooperate makes it difficult for law enforcement and prosecutors to seek justice.
State lawmakers want to change that culture by affording murder witnesses protection and shielding their identities in public records for two years after the crime.
“Let’s stop this no-snitch mentality,” said Rep. Cynthia Stafford, a Miami Democrat who’s sponsoring HB 111 this year. “Someone knows what happened but no one is coming forward because they’re afraid. Witness intimidation, retaliation — all of these are issues and concerns that people have about helping law enforcement help us.”