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Investigating a crime takes time

February 20, 2012 - Jodelle Greiner
This is not what I’d planned to do with my Monday.

Almost all my plans went in the circular file when I heard there had been a murder in Blue Earth early this morning. Thus the chase begins.

It’s a delicate balancing act, getting information from the police after something like this happens. The media would prefer they tell us everything right now. The officials would prefer to wait about a week to make sure they have all the evidence lined up and the suspect in custody.

Neither of those scenarios is going to happen.

I would never expect an official to tell me anything that would jeopardize the investigation and keep them from apprehending the person responsible. I also realize they have certain rules they have to follow, such as not releasing names of juveniles or medical conditions on victims (thanks, HIPAA).

But I also know that it is best to get what information we can out to the public as soon as we can. In this case, the suspect is still at large and the motive for the crime is unclear. That means, as Blue Earth Police Chief Tom Fletcher said, people should be vigilant. The public needs to know that this danger is out there as soon as possible so they can take precautions for their own safety.

The other reason factual information needs to be released quickly is, in the absence of facts, the rumor mill goes wild.

Jill Oliveira of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the personnel from the DPS’ Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was still processing the scene at 5 p.m., more than 16 hours after the call came in. For those who love seeing their crimes solved in an hour on TV, this is incomprehensible.

Real life crime scene investigators do not have script writers. They have to gather, tag and process the evidence in real time. TV cuts to the next scene; in real life, crime scene investigators have to travel back to the lab and run the tests, any one of which could take an hour or more itself.

So, don’t scream “CONSPIRACY!!!” if you have to wait longer than an hour to find out everything. Please remember what all has to happen — in real time — for the police and investigators to do their job and make sure they get a criminal off the streets and keep you safe.


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