Turning to the Public for Detective Investigative Help

If you look at a weekly lineup of television shows at any given time you will notice that there are always plenty of shows that involve criminal investigation. Thinking back to my own childhood I remember that one of my favorite book series to read was the Encyclopedia Brown series in which at the end of every story, the reader is given the opportunity to solve the crime having read all of the facts and details of the crime. It is possibly in this spirit — that many people like to believe that they could solve a crime if given the opportunity — that the police in Sarasota County released all of the information they have regarding a puzzling unsolved crime.


For nearly 10 months, Sarasota Sheriff’s Office investigators have said little about the case.

But now, after not receiving a single useful tip from the public, detectives are providing key details of evidence collected at two connected crime scenes: at Courts’ home where she was killed; and at a burglarized house across the street.

The incriminating evidence includes DNA, fingerprints and shoeprints from the suspect or suspects.

I think that this is actually quite a positive step. If the police of New York, for example, can keep countless cameras on the city and watch us from high up in the sky, why not let the people you are watching do some watching of their own and help you solve crime.

I suppose one possible problem with allowing the public open access to information about ongoing crime investigations is that it could inspire people to commit new crimes based on the information they get from the investigations. I would hope that ultimately the number of crimes solves through the increase in public eyes attempting to solve puzzling crimes.

Let us not forget about the hit television America’s Most Wanted which was recently cancelled despite how many criminals it helped catch — the reason given was high production cost and not being sufficiently profitable. (As my father repeatedly told me as I grew up, the reason businesses exist is to be profitable — why keep on a losing show when they can just regurgitate more mindless reality shows in our faces?) Rest assured that the show will go on thanks to Lifetime: Television for Women — seems they understood a good thing when they saw it. The show may have not been big on making money but it has helped catch some of the FBI’s most wanted criminals.

With the help of the public I really believe that the police will need fewer Panopticonic towers and video cameras to help them as they will rely more on the people they are protecting to help them watch out for each other.

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