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Gunshot-victim cooperation with police investigations: Results from the Chicago Inmate Survey

NCJ Number
Preventive Medicine Volume: 143 Dated: February 2021
K. White; et al
Date Published
February 2021

We use data from the Chicago Inmate Survey (CIS) to analyze the potential value that gunshot-victim cooperation could have for increasing arrest rates.



Just one in ten nonfatal shootings in Chicago lead to an arrest. Unlike in fatal cases, gunshot victims who survive can often provide information of use in the police investigation. Nonetheless, nonfatal shooting cases in Chicago and elsewhere have much lower arrest rates than fatal cases, in part because most victims do not cooperate. Half of CIS respondents reported they had been shot before. Very few cooperated with police investigations of these shootings, although at least half of them could have provided useful information. In fact, victims were more likely to speak with the police when they did not have any information on their shooter. Respondents explained their choice not to cooperate by reference to “street codes” against snitching, mistrust of the police, and the desire to retaliate against the shooter personally. If more shooting victims could be persuaded to cooperate, the police could solve more cases and hence be more effective in curtailing gun violence. (Publisher abstract provided)