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NJ Residents May Keep Quiet About Crime Because They’re Nervous [AUDIO]

We’ve been telling you this week how law enforcement officials have been urging Jersey residents to call local police if they suspect gang activity is taking place in their communities – similar to the “if you see something, say something” campaign that’s been run by Homeland Security officials.

Bennett Raglin, Getty Images

But how many people will really follow up and open their mouths to report a suspicious situation?

According to Rutgers sociology professor Dr. Debra Carr, there are plenty of reasons why people will choose to stay silent.

She says “it may come down to – how easy is it to call in a tip? People don’t like to go out of their way – but if you can quickly send a text, or the phone number is sitting right there – on a poster- and you make it easy – that will help push them along.”

She says “another factor is people tend to not get involved because they’re insecure about doing the wrong thing – so I think people who are really confident, or sure about their convictions, might be more likely to call in and make a report –Some people might not want to make a report because they don’t want to look racist or xenophobic.”

Dr. Carr points out “there’s a lot of fear involved certainly in terms of reporting a potential gang member- there might be fear that you might be caught- that you might not totally be anonymous, and that the gang members might come after you…but there’s also fear of looking silly …you don’t want to see crisis everywhere – you don’t want to waste valuable taxpayer dollars sending the police on a wild goose chase that might not lead to anything…so I think fear might actually be a bigger disincentive to engaging in this type of help than just laziness or lack of community-mindedness… I think people do want to help, provided that they feel good about it, and that they feel that there’s no real cost or danger to themselves for doing it.”

She adds we’re all familiar with the slogan “if you see something, say something, but you might not see something – there’s so many distractions in the world today, whether it’s playing on your iPhone, listening to music, doing crossword puzzles when you’re traveling – people have such a need to be occupied today when they’re walking and taking the train, that they truly may not notice, because they’re so engaged in their own personal activity…citizens need to feel engaged, because they are knowledgeable and they do have insights and observations that can help the police.”

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