Almost thirty years ago I attended a “continuing education” session for law enforcement personnel about ritual abuse crimes. Here I learned firsthand it is a good idea to be skeptical of the police.
At that time our part of the country was swept up in the national hysteria about the supposed widespread existence of intergenerational networks of seemingly ordinary people who were engaged in Satanic rituals, murders, and the sexual abuse of their own children. The panic was fueled by the Son of Sam murders in New York and the McMartin Daycare child abuse trial in California, as well as the local prosecution of some folks in Jordan, Minnesota who had run afoul of bad police work and an ambitious prosecutor.
The prosecutor’s outrageous claims were eventually disproved after numerous lives among the accused were ruined. (Judge Antonin Scalia referred to the Jordan case in his summation on a later case, and cited the repeated, well-intentioned but coercive techniques used with children by the investigators as damaging to the investigation.)
Then as now, flawed facts and coerced testimony were fed to uncritical media organizations eager to tell a sensational story.
What I learned at that police seminar is that cops can always find evidence to support whatever they’re looking for, even if that something is a complete fiction. It’s kind of like that saying: If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem starts looking like a nail.
I surmised that these hammerhead cops were working themselves into frenzy about ritual crimes because they genuinely believed in Satanic cults with horrible practices. I could see how their earnest yet unwarranted efforts were helping to foment a snowballing national panic.
The guys who invited me to the seminar (members of the Minneapolis Police Gang Unit) seemed a decent enough gang themselves. They were nice to me and helped me with my research. I enjoyed their lurid show of “evidence” and “expert” testimony shared among colleagues. It had a certain voyeuristic appeal, and I remember wondering if the rest of the audience was experiencing a slight adrenaline rush as I was or if adrenaline is just a constant part of their jobs.
Over the ensuing time and distance since then I never understood how these police detectives, supposedly trained in investigative techniques, could have been so taken in that they should throw themselves into a popular mass delusion which, as reality played out, has been so thoroughly and soundly debunked.
The answer came to me ten years later when I was researching employee selection and found, to my surprise and amazement, that if your IQ is over 110 you can’t be a cop in many police departments and jurisdictions. Analysis showed a direct correlation between high turnover and high IQs.
Turnover costs were too high, so how does government solve this problem?
No, not by addressing the reasons smart cops leave. Government cut its turnover costs by lowering the selection standards!
Hey, I’m not saying that all cops are idiots. I mean no disrespect.
But watching the unfolding family tragedy in Western Pennsylvania caused by the botched investigation of Kenzie Houk’s murder reinforces the most uncharitable stereotypes of police.
If you were to share the forensic evidence that is and is not present in Kenzie’s murder investigation with any backwoods hunter who has shotguns, he could tell you the murders didn’t happen—and couldn’t have happened—as the police have claimed.
If the crime happened the way police said, all kinds of forensic evidence would have to have been present in the victim’s wounds, all over the crime scene, and on the perpetrator’s person—physical evidence that simply wasn’t there.
The blue blanket which figured so visibly in the police and former prosecutor’s accusations—that “sure sign” of premeditation—came back from the crime lab with no apparent connection to the murders. The quarter-sized hole that so excited the cops turned out to be a cigarette burn.
C’mon, there’s no way a cigarette burn can be mistaken for a hole caused by a shotgun blast. The police have produced nothing to prove Jordan’s shotgun was even used in the crime. In fact, the forensic evidence they do have says a handgun was likely used.
Duh?! You haven’t read that in any media coverage, have you?
In the meantime, so many people in the general public who are afraid of guns and know little about them are all worked up about this implausible and sensational story invented by the cops and not even supported by their own evidence. It reminds me of the 1983 “ritual abuse” witch hunt in Jordan, Minnesota.
By this time the cops involved in the Jordan Brown case have got to realize how bad they’re going to look when the evidentiary underpinnings of the prosecution’s case are kicked away in court. I can only imagine how anxious the police must be for Jordan to be decertified so his case will be moved to juvenile court where official incompetence and malfeasance will be cloaked from full public scrutiny.
There is no indication so far that either the police or the prosecution are willing to admit they screwed up and that a dreadful injustice has been perpetrated.
To stoop to the sacrifice of an innocent child in order to paper over official mistakes is a monumentally stupid course to follow. It would prove to be ultimately self-defeating for the authorities because it deservedly encourages lack of respect for Law and Authority among all people, but especially our young.