Today’s Investigative Special Report August 17, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Did Law Enforcement Learn From The Jerry Sandusky Case”

Lawrence W. Daly

Most organizations find themselves always catching up in the training and education of their personnel. It is no different in the professional community of law enforcement. With an ever changing world law enforcement needs to be trained, educated, competent, and intelligent in every aspect of their organization. When it comes to specialized investigations law enforcement must be on top of their game.

With the Jerry Sandusky case behind the criminal justice system, law enforcement had the opportunity to take a case where there were multiple victims, witnesses, and perpetrators and learns from it. Sandusky acted alone in reference to the sexual assaults but the individuals who surrounded him could be seen as culpable as he was because they failed to report the sexual abuse.

In the late 1980’s in the State of Washington the reporting of child sexual abuse by the Department of Social Health Services i.e. the division of Child Protective Services failed to report allegations of sexual assaults on children to law enforcement. With the assistance of Senator Linda Jackson and the King County Sheriff’s Department the law for reporting child sexual abuse was changed.

The confusion in the Washington State law in the 1980’s was the reporter of the alleged child sexual abuse could call either child protective services or law enforcement. The law changed the manner in which the reporting was conducted. The new law took away the problem by making it mandatory for child protective services to report any and all reports they received immediately to law enforcement and vice-versus.

The amount of work tripled for both agencies, however, the need to protect children from sexual and physical assaults had to be the number one consideration. The need for change in the 1980’s was a learning lesson not only for those in the criminal justice community, but for other states who were dealing with their own method and techniques to deal with the reporting of child sexual assaults.

By the time the Sandusky sexual assaults occurred the reporting of child sexual assaults was no longer an issue. Those who were responsible to report any reasonable suspicion that a sexual assault had occurred involving a child had to report the assaults. Sandusky’s superiors knew what he had done and the incident which was witnessed by then assistant coach Mike McQueary was reported to his supervisors and by the Pennsylvania state law the language of who has to report the sexual assault is clear.

McQueary’s immediate supervisor would have been the head coach Joe Paterno. This situation was something Paterno could not have delegated. In fact under the law of reporting sexual assaults, Paterno had a duty to report the incident to the authorities.

It is alleged that President Graham Spanier, former Vice President of Business and Finance Gary Schultz, and former athletic director Tim Curly allegedly failed to report the sexual assault incidences because they wanted to avoid the consequences of bad publicity. Therefore, these three men and others allegedly concealed facts relating to Sandusky’s sexual assaults to authorities and the University’s Board of Trustees.

The criminal trials of Schultz and Curly will take place in the immediate future. Due to the Sandusky conviction it is unlikely that these men who were part of the cover-up would be able to receive a fair trial.

The law enforcement officials who worked the Sandusky investigation need to take the information of how they handled the investigation to make the outcome a positive and successful learning experience for their profession. If law enforcement shares the methods and techniques to other law enforcement officials and agencies, which were utilized in a multiple victim, witness, and perpetrators criminal investigation everyone wins.

The ability to communicate between law enforcement officials from the bottom to the top what investigative steps were utilized can be performed in many ways. The law enforcement officials who experienced firsthand how complex investigations should be conducted need to provide in writing i.e. articles, protocols, and other methods what they achieved from the time the report was made to the conviction of Sandusky.

The communication of methods and techniques should not stop at the investigative level. Those in the criminal justice system e.g. corrections, prosecutors, counselors, and etc. should convey to others in their professions specifically what their role was from the beginning to the end.

Too often the criminal justice system has to wait until one of the parties involved in the investigation authors a book before how the case unfolded, was investigated, and prosecuted. This is a poor way of communicating information which promotes competence and intelligence.

The need to broadcast success in the criminal justice system needs to vocalize the victory loudly. There are too many criminal cases which eventually go to trial and the number of success stories is minimal. The need to communicate in a profession where communication is generally limited has never been in such great need and demand. With budgets cutting training and education, what someone finds successful in law enforcement should be shared in any way possible to other law enforcement agencies and officers across the globe. If law enforcement learned anything positive or negative from the investigation of the Sandusky case, the need to share the investigative methods and techniques is now.

Description: Larry-Daly_01

Lawrence W. Daly           
Puyallup, WA

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