Drop a dime

Our view : City police have DNA evidence

now residents must help them find Harris' killers

November 11, 2008

It's been nearly two months since former City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. was murdered in the parking lot of the Northwood Plaza during a botched robbery at a popular jazz club. Since then, police have released surveillance tapes of three masked suspects in the case and linked the gun used in the crime to an earlier robbery at a nearby gas station through ballistics tests. Last week, police also announced that they recovered DNA evidence from the crime scene that could identify the killer if matched with that of a suspect.

But so far, efforts to find Mr. Harris' killers have been stymied by the inability or unwillingness of residents to step forward with information that might solve the case. Someone, somewhere, must have seen something that could keep the trail from going cold, and it's imperative that citizens who may have knowledge of the crime share it with police.

Much has been written about the lack of trust between ordinary citizens and police that has been an obstacle to the kind of cooperation needed to solve such cases. Many residents, for good reason, fear retaliation from criminals for aiding police in their investigation. The "Stop Snitching" videos uncovered a few years ago were a chilling reminder that witness intimidation is still very much a fact of life in many Baltimore neighborhoods.

But someone has to muster the courage to break the vicious cycle that allows criminals to terrorize entire communities with impunity. They must step forward now. It's unconscionable that a man such as Mr. Harris, who devoted his life to public service on behalf of his neighbors, should be betrayed by the silence of the very people he worked so hard to help.

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