De­tec­tives give ‘cadets’ keys to strong in­ves­ti­ga­tions

Springfield Sun - - FEATURES - By A.L. Graben­stein For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

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