Archive for the ‘Criminal Investigation’ Category


October 17, 2017

This article provides some explanation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, and Zcash as well as blockchain, which is the underlying technology. Dark market usage, such as buying and selling illegal drugs, is estimated to be only a small percentage of cryptocurrency transactions, but their susceptibility to money laundering, phishing, and hacking is substantial.


Forensic science, wrongful convictions, and exonerations

October 16, 2017

This article from the NIJ Journal reviews the role played by forensic science in both exonerations and wrongful convictions. DNA is often the primary factor leading to exoneration, of course, but forensic science is rarely the sole cause of a wrongful conviction in the first place — rather, it is most often combined with one or more other contributing factors, such as eyewitness error, official misconduct, or false confession. The article concludes with several recommendations.

New DNA applications

September 25, 2017

DNA in investigations has mainly been used to match human cells from a crime scene to a known suspect or DNA in a database, but this article describes some other emerging uses, such as identifying physical characteristics of an otherwise unknown suspect. This type of genetic analysis recently helped solve a 1992 murder case in Massachusetts, according to a prosecutor’s statement.

Revisiting Miranda

August 28, 2017

This article summarizes a study arguing that Miranda protocols prevent police from solving “about 20 percent more violent crimes and 11.6 percent more property crimes.” The authors don’t think “you have the right to remain silent” inhibits many confessions, but rather the practice of stopping questioning when a suspect says they want an attorney. They suggest a revised warning that would protect self-incrimination rights without short-circuiting interrogations. The full study is available here.

More on proprietary big data systems

August 12, 2017

This article reports the experiences of several law enforcement agencies with Palantir’s data analysis systems. The company’s hardware and software systems, originally developed for intelligence agencies, help with integration and visualization of data stored in multiple “silos.” LAPD was able to cut the time required to produce Chronic Offender Bulletins from an hour to 3-5 minutes, which helped reduce violent crime in one target district by 15%. The systems are very expensive, however, and some users complain about hard-to-use software, costly upgrades, poor technical support, incompatibility with non-Palantir systems used by other agencies, and generally being at the mercy of the company once its products have been purchased and installed.

Reviewing unfounded sexual assault cases

July 28, 2017

This article reports that Ottawa will adopt the “Philadelphia Model” in which a multidisciplinary panel reviews reported sexual assaults that police classify as unfounded. The main purpose is not to find specific police errors, but to identify ways of improving the system so that future decisions are based on valid criteria and victims are more satisfied that they were treated fairly.

Inconsistent lineups in Minnesota

June 13, 2017

This article describes several cases of flawed photo lineups in Minnesota, a state that pioneered improved eyewitness identification procedures over a decade ago. A 2016 survey found that 60% of the state’s law enforcement agencies lack written policies on the subject. Despite evidence to the contrary, most chiefs believe they are “up to snuff” and prosecutors say “they shouldn’t be dictating investigative processes to police.”

Direct hiring of detectives in UK

June 1, 2017

This article reports that the London Metropolitan Police are recruiting for direct entry as detectives without the traditional career path starting as uniformed constable. The agency has 600 detective vacancies. New hires will undergo 18 weeks of training similar to that for new constables, but with an investigative focus.

Expanded DNA testing in NY State

May 8, 2017

This article reports that New York state labs have produced almost 1,500 investigative leads since 2012 when DNA sample collection was extended to all persons convicted of crimes, regardless of seriousness. In one example, two cold case murders were linked to a suspect when DNA from his brother, found guilty of violating a protective order, was a partial match to evidence that had been recovered from the victims. Subsequent investigation pointed to the suspect and his DNA was a match.

Operation Pacifier, 870 arrests for online child sexual abuse

May 6, 2017

This press release describes the results of a worldwide FBI & Europol investigation into online child sexual abuse on the Darknet’s Playpen site. Three site administrators were recently convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison. A total of 870 arrests have been made and 259 sexually abused children have been identified or rescued.