Archive for the ‘Criminal Investigation’ Category

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.

Hate crimes taken seriously in Seattle

April 7, 2017

This article describes how hate crimes are handled in Seattle, using a well-established system of outreach and investigation that predates recent incidents around the country. Reporting is especially strong — the police department records more hate crimes than 33 states, an obvious reflection of under-reporting by other jurisdictions. Most incidents involve harassment rather than violence, and a high proportion are linked to intoxication or mental illness, according to prosecutors.

Army officers recruited into CID

March 18, 2017

The US Army has increased its recruitment of company-grade officers (lieutenants and captains) willing to resign their commissions in order to become Army CID special agents at the warrant officer rank, according to this article. Although the transition involves a reduction in rank and pay, it provides substantial specialized training and career opportunities for those with a strong interest in investigations.

“I think it’s really cool how they set up the dummy”

March 9, 2017

This article reports how Las Vegas police used a mannequin to catch a suspect in the murders of two homeless men. According to the police, “We took those crimes very personally.” The attack on the decoy occurred at the same location as the two homicides, 19 days after the second murder.

Taking a bite out of forensic odontology

February 15, 2017

This article reports a session on dentistry at the annual forensic science conference featuring Keith Harward, who was wrongfully incarcerated for 33 years in Virginia based on expert testimony that bite marks on the victim were made by him “to a reasonable scientific certainty” and “It’s a practical impossibility that someone else would have all these characteristics in combination.” Recent reviews have been very critical of the scientific validity of bite mark matching.

Shooters rarely arrested in Boston

February 14, 2017

Suspects were arrested in less than 4% of 618 non-fatal shootings over a 32-month period during 2014-2016 in Boston, according to this article. Community members say that witnesses and victims fail to cooperate in investigations because they fear the shooters more than they trust the police. Comparable figures for non-fatal shootings in other cities are elusive but clearance rates of 30-40% seem more typical.

Taking unsolved murders seriously

February 9, 2017

This article describes work done by a former journalist to compile and analyze data on unsolved murders throughout the U.S. — well over 200,000 since 1980. Police departments initially ignored his data and alerts about cases possibly linked to serial killers, but have recently started to take notice.