1.04.2013

Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 4, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “What Law Enforcement Has To Do Each Day – Maneuver Through Many Twisted Roads To Find The Truth In Child Sexual Assault Investigations”



By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
When you first receive your driver’s license you soon realize that if you don’t learn how to maneuver through the twisted roads, dark streets, wet and raining streets, barricades, barriers, holes in the road, drunk drivers, pedestrians, and many other obstacles, than you won’t be driving very long. The first sign of trouble is when you fail to abide by the rules of the road and find your vehicle is no longer in the condition it was prior to you getting behind the wheel. Over a period of time habits form which for the most part are good. However, it is the formidable bad habits which cause turmoil for those who allow specific situations to get twisted.
Following the Dicks aka Watching the Detectives
Following the Dicks aka Watching the Detectives (Photo credit: pixieclipx)
Being a law enforcement officer and investigating crimes, the road to the discovery of ascertaining what the truth is can be similar to being behind the wheel of a vehicle where over a period of time, the officer will face twists and turns which he previously had never seen or dealt with in the investigation of child sexual assaults.
Sometimes an officer is incapable of understanding what the investigation has in store for him. Sexual assaults of any kind against any person is criminal and those who commit these types of crimes need to be identified, apprehended, prosecuted, and incarcerated until the day they die. When someone violates someone’s body without the proper age or consent they need to be held accountable and responsible for their behavior and actions.
As a law enforcement detective assigned to investigate a child sexual assault allegations(s) there is no way of the detective determining what the testimony and evidence will be at the initial phase of the complaint being reported to him. Basically, the detective will receive a report from the first responder which generally has only the basic information in the report and maybe some hand written statements which are cursory at best.
After receiving the assigned investigation, generally the first call by the detective is to contact the complainant and receive a full set of the circumstances and facts. This will provide the detective with information which will assist him in understanding of what he is dealing with.
This is not the only investigation the detective will be handling in his assignment in the Special Assault Unit (SAU). The usual case load for detectives assigned in SAU ranges from 20-35 cases depending on the competency and inte
Detectives at crime scenes
Detectives at crime scenes (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)
lligence of the detective. Some detectives have great difficulty in handling a major case load.
One of the aspects of being a competent and intelligent detective is dealing with many tasks at one time, sometimes referred to as multi-tasking. Some organizational psychologists (OP) have suggested that superior minds can handle seven to eleven tasks at the same time. Some OPs disagree with this point stating there is no such thing as multi-tasking because an individual is capable of only handling one task at a time. In fact studies perform by OPs have found research which indicates that individuals are actually less effective when attempting to do more than one tasks at a time. Further, they suggest that an individual should identify the 20% of their tasks that are really effective, and do them one at a time.
The Pareto Principle has some significance in the OPs research reference the 80/20% theory. They state as does the Pareto Principle that 20% of the work an individual does give 80% of the impact and effectiveness of what they are trying to accomplish. Some detectives who attempt to look busy are in fact being ineffective, unless the individual is capable of improving and implementing the 20% rule.
OPs suggest that individuals who deal with multiple responsibilities i.e. major caseloads create a system where they deal with the most important tasks first. As a detective the first responsibility when they begin their day is to ascertain if there are any in-custody cases waiting to deal with.
Most law enforcement agencies assign detectives to specific areas of the city, county, state, or federal. If an individual is arrested during the evening the individual will be placed into lock-up until the assigned district detective can talk to him in the morning. If the district detective is already dealing with multiple in-custodies, the supervisor will generally shift the work load to those who 
English: Image is similar, if not identical, t...
English: Image is similar, if not identical, to the New Jersey State Detective patch. Made with Photoshop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
are not as busy and are able to assist in handling the new in-custodies.
Trying to investigate all of the cases the detective is assigned to can be simply maddening. Therefore, the structure of the detectives days, times, and responsibilities should be organized as follows:
1.      Upon arriving at work the detective will need to contact his supervisor and determine if there are any in-custodies which need to be dealt with immediately. If criminal charges are to be filed the detective will need to find probable cause within a 48 to 72 hour timeframe. Each jurisdiction may have a different way of dealing with in-custodies reference the time frame the detective is required to have a majority of the investigation completed, which supports or doesn’t support that a crime occurred. There are many aspects of the criminal case that the detective is responsible and accountable for. Failure to meet these legal requirements may have a negative, twisted, and unfortunate set of circumstances to it e.g. the alleged perpetrator being released.
2.      Return any telephone calls which came in during the other shifts. Prioritize which person needs to be contacted immediately and so forth.
3.      Schedule times during the day to check their email accounts. The detective should select specific times of the day where they should check their emails. This task priority is what OPs call “Batch Tasking.” It may not work for some people and their job may require that the email accounts are open all the time or checking the emails randomly, but making them a priority all day long in order to accomplish their responsibilities.
4.      If there are no in-custodies the detective needs to select days for being in the office and out of the office in the field. Working in the office the detective can check with the State Laboratory, Property Room, and any other miscellaneous tasks. Working out of the office the detective should select specific days to make contacts with witnesses and perpetrators which are involved in the cases he is carrying in his caseload.
5.      Victim interviews may need to be conducted on a daily basis depending on the urgency of the detective’s case load. This task should be conducted on one day of the week where the detective can schedule these interviews back to back to be efficient and perform other tasks in-between interviews.
6.      There are times where the detective can request patrol to arrest an alleged perpetrator and transport them to the station for interrogation purposes. This is something this author does not advocate because the contact with the alleged perpetrator needs to be positive and effective. Moreover, if the detective makes the arrest it may provide him with the opportunity to establish a relationship and begin the interrogation process from the initial meeting to the interrogation room to the booking process. Having a law enforcement officer who works patrol who knows nothing about the facts of the case can cause the alleged perpetrator to become frustrated, when he begins to ask questions of the patrol officer about why he is being arrested and taken to the police station. If the alleged perpetrator is a habitual criminal he will possibly request an attorney prior to the detective being able to interrogate him. These twists and turns are decisions the detective will have to make, but he will also have to live with it. There are no second chances when it comes to dealing with alleged pedophiles. As they say this is probably not their first rodeo, so the detective must weigh his arrest options very carefully.
7.      The detective must make time for organizing paperwork and presenting cases to the prosecutor for the determination if a criminal charge will be filed. Most States require that the prosecutor receives any investigation thirty days after it has been received by law enforcement.
Sometimes it is important for the detective to take time away from the job to gather his thoughts about what he has accomplished and wants to accomplish during the day. When the facts become twisted the response to these types of problems will need a microscopic type of examination and evaluation in order to overcome any barriers, obstacles, and so forth.
Most detectives are individuals who are experienced and understand what specifically is required of them. However, some officers when faced with obstacles, twisted facts, unavailable victims and witnesses, and no leads will put the case to the side failing to be creative and innovative in any attempt to find the truth. Leads aren’t given to investigators, they have to be created, developed, and pursued with an open and objective attitude that with each twist and turn the truth may be exposed.
The detective’s supervisor must make the decision to assist him in becoming motivated and successful or allow him to fail over and over until the stress and anxiety limits the detectives time in SAU. Being assigned in SAU is at times emotionally so stressful the detective will request to be transferred as soon as their caseload becomes more than they can handle. The decision to remain in SAU or transfer when the nuances and subtleties become difficult to deal with is something each officer has to deal with. The reasons to remain in SAU or leave is not only a professional decision, but unlike other investigative assignments a personal decision.
Simply some law enforcement officers are better suited finding an investigative assignment in a different division. Handling the many twists which are a common thread in child sexual assault investigations may lead the detective to understanding and determining the truth. Complainants have high expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations which will either push the detective into performing his job or move him into utilizing the avoidance method and technique.
The daily structure(s) of being a SAU detective can sometimes be difficult emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel may seem unreachable. However, if driven to overcome the complex twists and turns in any investigation will be rewarding to the detective and make his time in SAU beneficial personally and professionally.
The detective’s management hierarchy and the community he works for will hold him to a higher standard than any other job. Their expectations are justified and necessary as they must rely upon him to perform his job competently and intelligently. Anything else is inexcusable and demeans the law enforcement community in which he works.


 
Lawrence W. Daly
206-650-0229
Kent, WA










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