Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Protocol Police Should Always Follow in Homicide/Missing Person's Cases

Every police department handling a homicide or missing person case and making a public statement or holding a press conference should adhere to what I call RULE NUMBER ONE:

This statement and ONLY this statement should be made:

"At this time, everyone who does not have an ironclad alibi is a person-of-interest. Even though some persons may fall extremely far down on our list of possible suspects, unless we can absolutely prove they could physically have no involvement with the crime (we are not including here the possibility of masterminding a crime or murder-for-hire), they will remain on our persons-of-interest list. Only when we can absolutely prove a person has no involvement will we remove them from the list.

To the public we ask that you consider thoroughly any person you might feel has involvement in the crime and contact us, even if you are not sure that your suspicion or information is valid. We will do due diligence to follow up on the information and work to determine if there is evidence enough to pursue the lead more thoroughly.

Even those persons who do not have an ironclad alibi and are low on our list of suspects, we will interview and investigate so that we can be sure to have as much information as possible to determine if they should be investigated more aggressively or not. If we do not properly investigate all connected, those persons may, at a later date, find themselves unable to prove their innocence as time is a destroyer of evidence and witnesses. To protect the case and all persons-of-interest, our police department will cover all the necessary bases and continue to thoroughly investigate all leads until the perpetrator is identified, arrested and prosecuted."

In other words, the police department should NEVER ignore persons just because they feel they are unlikely to be involved in the crime, they should NEVER trust their gut just to find out later they were wrong, and they should NEVER mislead the public with some charade to put a particular person or persons-of -interest at ease. This statement should be made EVERY time they go public with a case; what they tell persons behind the scenes is another matter. Lying to the public is a lousy idea regardless of the intent because it causes distrust and a "Cry, Wolf" problem no police department should engender.

If EVERY time the police went public they made this statement, then parents of missing children, husbands of missing or murdered wives, and neighbors, friends, and business parters would always expect to be routinely interviewed and investigated and, if the police indeed routinely did this, they would find out that doing so could save a lot of cases from going south.

Finally, police departments should stop making silly statements like, "We will catch you!" because oftentimes this doesn't happen and makes the department look bad. Just say, "We will do our absolute best to catch the perpetrator," because at least that statement, if one lives up to it, can be the absolute truth regardless of the outcome.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

August 20, 2014

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