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"STEP UP, SPEAK UP"
Witness Cooperation Campaign Launched in Philadelphia

02/01/06

FBI Philadelphia Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hosko
Ron Hosko, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Philadelphia, speaks at the press conference announcing the campaign, flanked by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson (left) and John Appledorn, President of the Philadelphia citizen's Crime Commission.

Imagine what would happen if citizens grew too afraid or intimidated to report crime to law enforcement and to testify at criminal trials.

We'll tell you what would happen: many dangerous criminals would never be caught or prosecuted...community crime rates would increase...and the integrity of our nation's criminal justice system would be undermined.

Unfortunately, the intimidation of witnesses has been a growing problem in some cities around the nation, including Philadelphia, where T-shirts with the slogans "Stop Snitching" and "Don't Talk 2 Police" have become popular around the city and have even been worn in court.

Concerned, the FBI office in Philadelphia decided to take action. On 1/30, it joined with public and private organizations in launching an educational campaign to encourage crime witnesses to come forward with information.

The campaign—called Step Up, Speak Up, "Take the Big Step"—includes:

  • A resource guide that lists phone numbers and websites that area citizens can use to report crime (often anonymously) and to get witness assistance;
  • Public service announcements to encourage citizens to step forward with information and billboards that will show victims of local unsolved murders;
  • Free Step Up, Speak Up T-shirts for the youth of Philadelphia; and
  • Law enforcement officials who can speak at town halls and other public meetings about the important role witnesses play in reducing violent crime.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan of the Eastern District of Philadelphia also said the U.S. Department of Justice will fund relocation services for non-federal witnesses in the city to help curb intimidation.

Our partners in this campaign include: The Philadelphia Police Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, and the Philadelphia office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well as faith-based and civic organizations like Mothers in Charge, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Citizen's Crime Commission and businesses like Clear Channel Outdoors and the Philadelphia Daily News, which is publishing the resource guide as a free supplement in its newspapers.

We hope to expand the program, which was created by our Community Outreach Unit in Philadelphia, to other cities around the nation.

Final words. We can't say it strongly enough: whether you live in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the U.S., the FBI and its partners count on your help in stepping forward to report crime and to serve as witnesses in court. You can and do make a difference.

Resources: Resource Guide | FBI Philadelphia website