Chicago Pastors Call For Witness Protection Program To Help Solve Murders

Mike Krauser
July 28, 2020 - 2:37 pm
Witness Protection

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some Chicago pastors are asking the Cook County State’s Attorney to start a witness protection program to help solve more murders. 

"I stand here holding a letter, calling for a viable witness protection program," said Cy Fields, standing with other clergy members outside the Office of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

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Pastor Ira Acree led the group, delivering a letter to State's Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday morning. He said something has to be done, stating people who know about crimes are afraid to come forward - afraid they or their family members will be killed. 

"And we have also made this plea that goes nowhere: shooter, turn yourself in. Yeah right. You are talking about cold blooded killers," he said. 

He noted that police are only solving 21-percent of the homicides.

"Obviously, this emboldens the criminals, because they know that there is an 80 percent chance that they will not be apprehended," Pastor Acree said.  

The pastors were joined by the parents of children who were murdered. 

Sherita Galloway, who lost her son, Elija Simms, said someone knows who killed her son and she knows they're not coming forward, because they're afraid for their lives.

"Someone knows who killed my baby, but they are afraid. They are afraid that they are going to get killed, or someone in their family is going to be killed because they are not going to be protected," she said.

Pastor Acree said there's not a code of silence, but a culture of fear. 

"People always be beating up our communities on the South Side and West Side, saying people should speak up, people should have a conscious. It's not about a conscious. It's not about breaking a code of silence. Our challenge today is to break a culture of fear," he said.

The pastors said there are a lot of ideas regarding how a county-run witness protection program would operate, but that’s for others to work out, as well figuring out how to pay for it. 

The pastors said they know it will be a budget issue. They said figure that out. 

A statement from the State's Attorney's Office said it works with witnesses every day and can offer some relocation services, which is done on a case-by-case basis.

Read the full statement from Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx below:
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office works to uphold public safety through the fair and efficient administration of justice.  Every day, our dedicated Victim Witness Unit is on the front lines, working directly with those most affected by violence as they navigate the court system on their path to seeking justice.  This unit is funded by allocations in our annual County Budget as well as both state and federal grants.  These resources allow us to offer limited relocation assistance on a case by case basis.  

However, the criminal justice system cannot be the only resource for victims. Collaboration with advocates, community-based organizations, government, and other law enforcement agencies is critical to provide the most comprehensive system of services to victims and witnesses.

The safety of those who have been involuntarily engaged in the criminal justice system is paramount to the work of our office. I look forward to working closely with city and county officials to increase essential protections for everyone in Cook County. 

The State’s Attorney’s Office works to uphold public safety through the fair and efficient administration of justice.