I recently retired from the Miami-Dade Police Department, where I was the captain, then the major in the Homicide Bureau for five years (2007-2012). I also was the captain in the Northside District for a year.
Murder cases are investigated until all leads are exhausted. The evidence is then presented to the state attorney’s office, where the final decision is made on whether to proceed with the prosecution of the case. Unlike television police dramas, murder cases are not investigated and solved in one hour. Leads often don’t pan out, and the case come to a standstill. An arrest cannot be made based on a hunch or gut feeling. Police must have irrefutable evidence linking the subject to the crime.
In the case involving last week’s ambush of the two officers, there was an eyewitness — one of the involved officers — who was able to make positive identification. But there is a culture of “no snitching” that is pervasive in certain segments of our community.
I can recall dozens of cases where we knew there were eyewitnesses to a murder, and no one would agree to come forward. Police cannot do it alone; the community needs to come forward and do its part.