Investigators: Solving crimes not like on television
Third in a series
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
While “CSI” and other criminal investigation television shows are enjoying increasing popularity, law enforcement is not enjoying the false impression it leaves with citizens when it comes to solving real life crimes.
Lt. Justin Barley and Investigator Alan McDearmond explained the reality of criminal investigations with the Hartselle Police Department Citizens Academy recently.
Barley said studies have been conducted for what researchers call “CSI Syndrome,” a problem usually found in jurors who expect a crime to be solved as quickly, completely and easily as on television.
Barley said all fingerprint analysis in the state of Alabama is completed at the Alabama Bureau of Investigations in Montgomery. Prints are processed in order of priority, which can lead to a lengthy wait time.
The Hartselle Police Department Criminal Investigations Division consists of five investigators who investigate all felony cases and assist in misdemeanor cases.
Felony investigations include homicide, suicide, other deaths, robbery, burglary, sex crimes, child abuse, assault, arson, theft, forgeries, other white collar crimes, terrorist threats, and narcotics.
In 2005, two armed robberies were reported and solved in Hartselle. HPD received 288 reports of theft last year, more than any other felony, and solved 90, or 31 percent, of those cases. This year, Hartselle had its first homicide case in eight years.
McDearmond said citizens are instrumental in keeping the Hartselle community safe.
McDearmond suggested citizens should always keep doors and windows locked, never leave valuables in vehicles, and always be aware of their surroundings. Advanced crime prevention tips include starting a neighborhood watch, purchasing and securing a safe in your residence, and keeping a written and photographed record of valuables.
McDearmond, who specializes in white-collar crimes, advised citizens to be vigilant in preventing identity theft and check fraud.
He suggested removing Social Security numbers from driver’s licenses, avoid entering personal information by email or online, shredding all mail before placing it in the trash, using a post office box, reporting suspicious mail offers to police, and hanging up on telemarketers.
McDearmond said once a person has scammed a citizen or stolen their identity, a suspect can be hard to track and identify.
HPD investigators are available to speak to local civic and church groups about preventing identify theft by calling Investigator Alan McDearmond at 751-4917.