GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It's what many might see as a surprising roadblock to solving crimes: In hundreds of cases each year, victims refuse to help with the investigation.
The problem is frustrating for authorities, especially in violent crimes. Police say there are a number of very dangerous people at-large because of this tendency on the streets.
Perhaps the most high-profile case incident was that of three teens shot Monday afternoon near Hope Academy of West Michigan -- a charter school on Grand Rapids' southeast side.
Police say none of the victims -- not the two Hope Academy students nor the third teen found a block away -- are speaking up. The shooter -- or perhaps as many as three shooters -- remains at-large.
"I think they know a lot about what happened and they just choose not to tell us," GRPD Capt. Curt VanderKooi told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday. "We've run into this before."
The perpetrator is the last person you'd think would be protected, but it's something police say they face all the time. In some cases, victims won't even tell police who committed the crime against them.
The Grand Rapids Police Department tracks the problem and says it's the reason hundreds of cases close each year.
Figures of Grand Rapids cases closed because of non-cooperative victims (courtesy GRPD):
2010: Out of 83,850 cases, 1,068 victims were not cooperative (1.27%)
2011: Out of 82,986 cases, 595 victims were not cooperative (.72%)
2012 (to date): Out of 72,315 cases, 551 victims were not cooperative (.76%)
The number of uncooperative victims amounts to less than 1% of crime reports this year -- but when it means the person or people responsible for shooting three students near a school is still at-large, it's too many.
"We're just in a dark cloud because of a lack of cooperation," said Capt. VanderKooi.
One of the major efforts to try and curb the issue is Silent Observer, which allows people to help authorities anonymously.
Kent County Silent Observer can be contacted by calling 616.774.2345 or toll free at 1.866.774.2345 You can also text anonymous tips to CRIMES (274637). Silent Observer also has an app, which is linked on its website.
Authorities are still encouraging anyone with information regarding the shooting near Hope Academy of West Michigan to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or contact Silent Observer.
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