By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) —   Efforts to fight violent crime in Chicago are often hurt because witnesses are too scared to talk to police.

But CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports a Chicago businessman has a plan to get more cooperation.

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We’ve the heard the pleas to find a loved one’s killer. Pleas for justice. And rewards offered to entice witnesses to come forward. But businessman Early Walker knows fear often keeps people from calling the police, even when there’s a financial incentive.

The fear that criminals will retaliate.

“A lot of individuals say ‘hey I wouldn’t mind helping out, especially as it relates to innocent kids but I don’t have any funds to move, I can’t relocate. So, you know, I’m not saying anything,'” Walker said.

And so he had an idea: Why not give some of the reward money to witnesses after an arrest? But even before a conviction. They’d have money to relocate to a safe place.

“And so that’s why we decided to add this additional step to our mission,” Walker said.

He launched his mission with thoughts of his childhood on Chicago’s West Side.

“Seeing a lot of friends that I’ve lost to gun violence,” Walker said. “You know I just felt like, you know, I needed to do something.”

“I think it’s a noble idea that may spark some more community involvement.”

But longtime community leader Bishop James Dukes, who’s been involved in many efforts to curb violent crime, said often family members of killers have valuable information and they will not cooperate with law enforcement.

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“And I don’t know if there is a monetary amount that will make what they will view view as them telling, snitching or betraying their own family,” Dukes said.

Early Walker said 50 fellow businessmen and women are signing on to a group called “I’m Telling, Don’t Shoot.”

On Monday, Walker spoke at a CPD new conference announcing that his group is offering a $10,000 reward in connection to the carjacking and shooting death of retired Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Dwain Williams. Video of the incident was released.

Both he and the police are asking for anyone who knows anything about the crime to come forward.

“Here is a man who gave his life to the city. Finally was able to retire. To try and enjoy his life and now his life has been taken,” Walker said. “There’s someone out here who knows who these individuals are.”

 

He said more business owners like himself are signing on to help those who’ve witnessed crimes and to help others who want justice for their loved ones.

“We are growing as every day goes on,” Walker said. “We get more business owners that want to be a part of it.”

Walker, who owns a towing company and a funeral home, said they’ve delivered such reward money in two cases so far. Cases he didn’t reveal to protect the witnesses.

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