Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot at Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting. (Photo by Myra Miller)
Police chief hopes cards help people tip police
Eunice Police Chief Randy Fon tenot is hoping a “confidential witness card” will make it easi- er for people to help police solve crimes.
The cards — the same size as business cards — are intended to make it safer for people to cooper- ate with police.
“What we’ve been having with all these shootings and some of the crime going on is people don’t want to talk to the police for vari- ous reasons,” he said in a talk at the Eunice Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday.
“One of the biggest reasons is fear of retaliation. The don’t want it to be known that they’ve been communicating with us because they fear these people are going to retaliate against them,” he said.
Fontenot said when police get to a crime scene often there is a group of people there.
“We know they’ve witnessed this crime. They are all stand- ing around watching us process our crime scene and soon as you walk up to them and ask them, ‘Hey, can we get your name, your information, get a statement from what you’ve seen?’ they say, ‘Oh, I didn’t see anything; and they all walk away,” he said.
Police came up with what they call the “confidential witness pro- gram,” he said.
The idea is to hand out the cards that allow people to contact police on their own terms, he said.
In addition, police reports do not identify the witnesses. A re- cord is kept and the person may have to reveal their identify at trial, but often a witness can help police build a case strong enough they won’t have to go to trial, he said.
“Many times if we have a wit- ness to a crime and have a good case ... we may able to prosecute a
case without bringing the witness into it,” he said.
Fontenot cited a case when he was a patrol officer working a wreck. He was ready to give a driver a ticket for rear-ending another vehicle, but a wit- ness came forward that told a story that resulted in the other driver getting the ticket, he said.
“One witness can make that difference,” he said.
Crime Stoppers is another avenue to help po- lice, he said.
“The difference between a confidential witness and Crime Stoppers is the Crime Stoppers reports are anonymous,” he said.
The information from Crime Stoppers helps police build a case.
Police can only work with the help of people, he said.
On the issue of shoot- ing reports in Eunice, Fontenot said they are not random.
Fontenot said the shootings often are targeted and involve rival gangs. The shootings often ebb and flow with arrests, he
said. “It may slow down a little bit because this week one of major players was shot in Orange County, Texas. We don’t know if he is going to make it back or out of the hospital. Now, at least they are doing the shooting in Texas and they moved out of Eunice, but hey will come back to Eunice after they are done, which is not a good thing,” he said.