Detectives give ‘cadets’ keys to strong investigations
NORRISTOWN » Norristown Citizen Police Academy students focussed on forensics as they were introduced to investigative members of the police force.
Criminal Investigative Division Evidence Technician Maryrose Ward said she started as a “lowly intern” as a criminal justice and psychology major from Temple University, working evidence that, she said, usually goes to “retired police.”
Ward is responsible for clearing out the evidence room and working the computer system (CODY) to log in evidence.
“Every piece gets a tag number,” she said.
Her job also includes fingerprinting walk-ins on Wednesdays, such as those that are court-ordered, as well as fingerprinting needed for certain clearances.
Also joining the session from the Criminal Investigation Division were detectives David Mazza, Kathleen Kelly, and Juvenile Detective Steve Sowell.
According to Detective Mazza, “All detectives have a specialty.”
Detective Mazza’s focus includes assaults, missing persons, suspicious deaths and more. According to Detective Kelly, it is “all hands on deck” when it comes to homicides.
“We work on it all together (homicides) as one (unit).” said Detective Mazza,
Now more than ever, Detective Mazza said, patrol officers are “getting involved and working together” with the detectives conducting more investigations, interviewing witnesses, protecting crime scenes and finding witnesses.
The detectives also work with state police and can be “assigned a trooper” for cases such as a missing person.
According to Detective Mazza, detectives will assist local police departments because “some police departments don’t have detectives or they are parttime.”
According to Detective Kelly, finding patterns is key. “If there is a burst of robberies in the neighborhood, we know it’s the same group by looking at how they are doing it, what they are saying to witnesses, what they are taking.”
According to Detective Mazza, “people do what they are comfortable with.” He gave the example if a robber got in and out through a home window they are likely to try that again.
The detectives also discussed different forms of domestic abuse.
According to Detective Kelly, “not all domestic abuse is physical” she noted that it’s about “being controlled, financial abuse, going through their phone,” in reoccurring instances.
Another focus of the night was juvenile crime, and the nuances associated with it. And with juvenile crime, the children or teens acting out still have a chance to be helped.
According to Detective Sowell, along with rehabilitation, the aim of juvenile programs is “treatment.” Juvenile detention centers aim to be receptive so perpetrators get out fast, if they’re not receptive, they stay. “It’s individualized.” Also available to qualified juveniles is the possibility of job training.
Det. Sowell also said that he looks for “dysfunctional support” since juveniles are more likely to “do what they saw” in imitating behaviors and actions especially if faced with abusive guardians. He “reaches out to schools” to find who’s not coming to class and those not enrolled in extracurricular activities.
According to Detective Sowell, when it comes to working with juveniles, “social media is a big aspect.”
He reaches out to parents if he sees concerns from social media postings such as, “hanging with bad people, posing with guns.” He said it is about “making parents aware.” Detective Sowell said most parents are cooperative because “parents know their kid.”
With the rise in social media, “kids want attention and make it all public. Adults are more private.”
Detective Sowell said talking to kids during school assemblies “doesn’t work,” as most kids don’t care when it comes to internet safety. The focus has to shift to the “problem kids,” and key steps include not only identifying them, but reaching them and, ideally, opening a dialogue for productive communication.