Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 3, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations”

by Lawrence W. Daly 
“Is Being A Law Enforcement Officer Anything Like Die Hard’s John McClane?”
Since 1989 one of the favorite Christmas movies has been Die Hard starring Bruce Willis who plays an officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. The villain Hans Gruber played by Alan Rickman becomes entangled with Officer McClane and the action begins.
John McClane
John McClane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The hero of the movie is Officer McClane who one by one eliminates Gruber’s group of villains until there are no more, including the death of Gruber at the end of the movie. Anyone watching the movie would instantly want to find a job in law enforcement and be just like Officer McClane.
The show became a big hit with many other sequels being produced over the years. McClane is a rough and tough individual who is a very determined law enforcement officer. No one can out do him and no one can beat him. He is simply the best at what he does.
Most law enforcement officers give their all every day. They report to duty and do their best and try to give the community what they expect from them which is to protect and serve them.
When law enforcement responds to a complaint that a possible crime is occurring then the thought process of what investigative steps they should initiate comes from an educated and trained mind which is always processing the “what ifs” scenarios. These types of “lessons learned” comes from the astronomical amount of training hours each officer receives in the law enforcement academy, seminars, conferences, webinars, and many other learning venues.
The first responder must mentally process all of the potential dangerous scenarios which he may face as he responds to the complaint that a crime may have just occurred or is occurring. The education and training will provide answers too what the possibilities should be if confronted with a hostile situation. If the officer is confronted with a perpetrator who is hostile the officer must immediately gain the advantage in this situation, possibly using deadly force to protect others and him.
In dealing with perpetrators over the years the law enforcement officer must understand why a perpetrator does what he does and if the actions by the perpetrator seem reasonable and logical then the officer must consider why he is doing what he is doing. The officer must immediately take advantage of the perpetrator during the contact with him, from the initial contact to the possible interrogation. The officer must position himself in such a manner that he is thinking six steps ahead of this individual.
If the officer can visualize what his expectations and goals are with the perpetrator this may provide the officer with a game plan in how to control the perpetrator. There is no reason for the officer to lose control of any situation with the perpetrator. Being on guard at all times, the officer must maintain control of the perpetrator.
The officer must take the investigation from the viewpoint that he will produce positive results, hopefully resolving the complaint without having to affect an arrest. Conflict resolution should be the main goal the officer should attempt to reach during the initial investigation. When it comes to allegations of child sexual assault allegations the first responder should take the necessary information from the complainant and any witnesses at the alleged crime scene and forward the information to his supervisor who will then send the investigation to the Sexual Assault Unit (SAU).
It is prudent and a necessity that the officer demonstrates that what he is doing is to make sure he is taking the proper steps to obtain positive results. The initial fact finding investigation must be result(s) oriented. The officer who eventually is assigned to investigate the case wants the first responder to demonstrate initiative and to perform any investigative steps he can take at the time he has all of the parties at the crime scene.
When the follow-up officer receives the paperwork to investigate the allegations and there has been little to nothing done, this demonstrates that this first responding officer doesn’t understand what his role is and what investigative steps should have been taken.
Crime Classification Manual
Crime Classification Manual (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once the first responder has thoroughly and completely performed his responsibilities the assigned officer will then complete the investigation taking the proper steps to uncover the truth. Keeping this in mind the officer, if competent and intelligent, will consider a multitude of alternative hypothesis to pursue, eliminate, and culminate with a final hypothesis.
In interviewing the alleged child victim the child should provide the investigator with enough information about what happened between her and the alleged perpetrator. Depending on the child’s age, obtaining specific and factual information may be difficult, as young children may have difficulty in detailing what exactly took place. If the interview is futile this may indicate that the child was not sexually assaulted or the child was sexually assaulted and is incapable of disclosing the sexual assault.
When a law enforcement officer is assigned a case where the non-offending parent states that her three year-old child disclosed that the offending parent sexually assaulted her, this should immediately concern the investigator that something may be a mist.  This scenario has always been a complex set of circumstances as the reliability and credibility of the “origin” or “genesis” of the disclosure is placed into question.
The type of questioning the non-offending parent utilized to allow the child to tell her story may cause the statements not to be allowed in a court of law. There are hearsay exceptions, but if the non-offending parent lead or suggested the child into disclosing that she was sexually assaulted this may be problematic for law enforcement and eventually the prosecutor who has to make the decision to file criminal charges.
Another complex issue is when the officer receives a report that a child has disclosed that she was sexually assaulted to the non-offending adult (generally the mother or grandmother) and during the interview the child does not disclose to the forensic child sexual assault interviewer the same information this may become problematic.
The forensic interviewer may become frustrated and turn the interview into a coercive, misleading, leading, suggestive, multiple choices, and many other inappropriate question fests. Law enforcement and prosecutors who are generally not trained in the art of forensic child sexual assault interviewing believe that what the child said is the “truth” no matter what interview methods and techniques were utilized to obtain the information.
Law enforcement officials do not evaluate their forensic interviewer and how the statements of the child came about. Instead the officials become part of the inappropriate interview process. The inappropriate interview process has a ripple effect to it; the child and her testimony become “damaged goods.”
The alleged child victim, witnesses, forensic interviewer, law enforcement officers, and the physical, biological, and trace evidence (after the investigation is allegedly completed) will be examined and evaluated by outside law enforcement professionals who may come to the immediate conclusion that the forensic interviewer over stepped her boundaries, contaminated and tainted the interview with the child.
Further, that the witnesses were motivated to bring false witness against the alleged perpetrator in retaliation of some previous and formidable dispute; which left everyone upset with him and reason(s) to make the false claims; using the child as a pawn.
The dialogue between the alleged child victim and the forensic interviewer is generally digitally recorded and videotaped and a transcript of the interviews will be transcribed and can be reviewed by professional child sexual assault interviewers to determine if the forensic interviewer abided by the specific forensic protocol and procedure the criminal justice system in her community utilizes.
English: Plantation Pines, FL, June 26, 1998 -...
English: Plantation Pines, FL, June 26, 1998 -- Law enforcement officer aids in the mandatory evacuations in Plantation Pines, Florida. Photo by Liz Roll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The specific role of the investigator is to obtain the truth. The investigator must take in everything which has occurred in the case and weigh all of the evidence to determine if there is a reasonable and logical explanation for the alleged disclosures and how they were obtained. The statements made by the alleged perpetrator should be given the same weight as those of the alleged child victim and the complainant and witnesses.
The officer has many tools available to use during the fact-finding process. A tool which is commonly utilized by law enforcement is the polygraph. There are many people in the criminal justice system which gives the polygraph no weight at all and others who believe in the utilization of it giving it great weight.
In law enforcement the polygraph is utilized for many purposes, but most importantly to convince the alleged perpetrator that it is time to come forward and take responsibility for the sexual assault of the child. In many child sexual assault cases the polygraph has turned the perpetrator into what is known as a “runner.” A “runner” is someone who is contacted by law enforcement reference a child sexual assault, is interrogated, denies the allegations, and after a specific amount of time the officer asks the alleged perpetrator if he would take a polygraph.
In this situation the alleged perpetrator agrees to take the polygraph at a later date and time and the officer agrees and schedules the polygraph sometime during the week. During his absence away from the officer, he contacts an attorney and the attorney advises him not to take the polygraph. The alleged perpetrator or the attorney then calls the officer to inform him of the bad news, that there will be no polygraph.
The above scenario could have been avoided if the officer would have had the alleged perpetrator polygraphed at the initial contact at the law enforcement agency. In comparing this scenario with a purchase of a boat or car, the salesman knows if the individual who wants to purchase a car leaves the lot without purchasing a car the salesman will never see him again.
Alleged perpetrators if properly interviewed can make or break an investigation being performed by a law enforcement officer. The officer must control how the investigation has to be handled. If the officer has to be a car salesman to push an alleged perpetrator towards taking a polygraph then he needs to take advantage of the date, time, and most importantly the place.
Too often the witnesses and the alleged perpetrator try to control every aspect(s) of the investigation. The officer must confront these types of individuals and explain to them the investigative process. The process includes the officer being a neutral, objective, competent, and intelligent officer who takes no sides during the fact finding investigation. This investigative attitude by the officer may surprise some victims, witnesses, or perpetrators, but this investigative attitude has to be an investigative ideology which is made and kept in stone.
Being Officer John McClane looks like it would be exciting, fun, and thrilling. However, there is more to being a professional law enforcement officer than shoot-em up and kill all the bad guys. Being a law enforcement officer takes an individual who has morals, courage, intelligence, and a strong character. An investigation of child sexual assault is complicated where the decisions by the officer can bring reliability and credibility to the allegation or prove it them to be false.
There are many forensic child interview policies, protocols, and processes which will produce positive results when interviewing an alleged child sexual assault victim. The forensic interviewer must abide by these rules as straying from them because a child doesn’t confirm what an upset non-offending parent believes their partner or spouse did to the child will only bring about more questions about the competency of the interviewer.
The first responder must do everything and anything he can when he is assigned to answer a complaint. Failing to deal with the tasks and responsibilities of the job will cause an alleged child victim to be re-victimized or an innocent man to be sent to jail, losing his freedom. If law enforcement officers do what is asked of them by their community and enforces the laws of the city, county, state, and federal and performs a complete and thorough investigation during each complaint minor or serious, then the community and its citizens will continue to appreciate those who wear the uniform.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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