Ask a detective/undercover cop

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ajong14:
Hello, I'm working on a creative story for class and I've been reading through the Q&A's here. Very awesome and impressive! I hope Detective Ace_of_something could answer these situations.

1) A college student is trying to solve the murder mystery of her roommate. If she obtained semen samples from a suspect and sends it to a detective she was consoled/interviewed by, would it be plausible that the detective send the samples to forensics? Would she be breaking laws in the process?

2) Say a crime occurs in LA, which turns out to be part of an investigation (say, gang-related) in another county. Would the captured suspects and witnesses be transferred to the other county / police department? Would the interviewing process take place at the LA police department or the other county office or the witnesses' convenience?

3) Would it be possible for the suspect, say a friend of a witness, request that witnesses be part of the interviewing panel? Basically, I want the suspect to tell the truth in front of the roommate.

Welcome to the Escapist!

1) The detective could send it to be checked by a forensics lab yes. Realistically it takes about a month (sometimes two) to get DNA results and often times they are inconclusive. The other thing TV shows seem to lack is that you can't just look up DNA and figure out who it is. It has to be matched with something else. So you have to already have a chief suspect lined up with lots of other evidence before you can compare his DNA to a sample. Part of this is because DNA testing costs hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars.
However, in most fiction works, even those by former detectives, it's okay to make a DNA sample be read in hours or a few days for the sake of pacing the story :-)
A sample obtained by anyone other than a detective would be highly suspect and might get thrown out in court for not being properly recorded in the chain of evidence.

2) If the crime was committed in LA the suspects, after being arrested would be incarcerated in Other county. The detectives would likely drive to the Other county to interview the suspect (and get some sweet overtime pay). If charges were filed the suspect would than be transferred to LA's city (or county, I'm not sure what LA's situation is there) jail. Though if they already had very strong evidence and already charged the offenders with the crime they would be transferred by deputies from the Other county (where they were arrested) to LA county as soon as feasible (where they were charged) to await trial. In all honesty it could either way who would be moved where to do what. It's kind of a case by case thing.

3) It is against many many rules and regulations to have anyone other than the primary, secondary, or consultant detective (or the detective's supervisor) interview a witness or interrogate a suspect. Any other parties present would likely get the interview thrown out. However, all interview/interrogations are recorded on a closed circut.They do this for many obvious reasons. Also so that supervisors can watch interviews from their computer.
In a some situations it might be feasible for a supervisor to allow someone to watch the interview on the computer with them. Though I'm sure they'd need a good reason.

fanklok:

ace_of_something:

I had basically a paralysis caused by lupus building up weirdness in my system.
Yes, I'm like the anti-house of detectiving. I'm actually polite, professional, and try to be friendly.

Not to mention it actually was lupus, I just had to point that out and now I feel obligated to ask a real question that will probably already have been asked in the 3.5 pages since the quote.

Back in the day before your detectivery when you where a normal cop in uniform how often would you get called out to investigate gun fire only to find it was some kids playing with fire crackers/dry ice bombs?

Someone had to say it.
Well, fireworks were illegal in the city limits and are only sold from june 4th to july 4th around here so not very often.
Though often times you'd get called to see what's going on at a loud party open the door and there's like 2 or 3 people watching a movie without a stereo system in a very clean room.

We had one older woman who would call the police like every other day for two weeks before we told her to stop it. The young lady who lived above her was kind of heavyset and the old woman bitched that she could hear her 'doing jumping jacks'. It turns out she was just kind of heavy and just had loud footsteps. The 2nd to last time we showed up the young woman was asleep (red eyes, in pajamas, and messed up hair) and claimed she had been for a while. So we told the old lady to knock it off before we charge her with harassment.
The final time I made them both meet in the hall and discuss their problems face to face and work it out before I left. (which they had NEVER done) never got a call after that.

ace_of_something:

ajong14:
Hello, I'm working on a creative story for class and I've been reading through the Q&A's here. Very awesome and impressive! I hope Detective Ace_of_something could answer these situations.

1) A college student is trying to solve the murder mystery of her roommate. If she obtained semen samples from a suspect and sends it to a detective she was consoled/interviewed by, would it be plausible that the detective send the samples to forensics? Would she be breaking laws in the process?

2) Say a crime occurs in LA, which turns out to be part of an investigation (say, gang-related) in another county. Would the captured suspects and witnesses be transferred to the other county / police department? Would the interviewing process take place at the LA police department or the other county office or the witnesses' convenience?

3) Would it be possible for the suspect, say a friend of a witness, request that witnesses be part of the interviewing panel? Basically, I want the suspect to tell the truth in front of the roommate.

Welcome to the Escapist!

1) The detective could send it to be checked by a forensics lab yes. Realistically it takes about a month (sometimes two) to get DNA results and often times they are inconclusive. The other thing TV shows seem to lack is that you can't just look up DNA and figure out who it is. It has to be matched with something else. So you have to already have a chief suspect lined up with lots of other evidence before you can compare his DNA to a sample. Part of this is because DNA testing costs hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars.
However, in most fiction works, even those by former detectives, it's okay to make a DNA sample be read in hours or a few days for the sake of pacing the story :-)
A sample obtained by anyone other than a detective would be highly suspect and might get thrown out in court for not being properly recorded in the chain of evidence.

2) If the crime was committed in LA the suspects, after being arrested would be incarcerated in Other county. The detectives would likely drive to the Other county to interview the suspect (and get some sweet overtime pay). If charges were filed the suspect would than be transferred to LA's city (or county, I'm not sure what LA's situation is there) jail. Though if they already had very strong evidence and already charged the offenders with the crime they would be transferred by deputies from the Other county (where they were arrested) to LA county as soon as feasible (where they were charged) to await trial. In all honesty it could either way who would be moved where to do what. It's kind of a case by case thing.

3) It is against many many rules and regulations to have anyone other than the primary, secondary, or consultant detective (or the detective's supervisor) interview a witness or interrogate a suspect. Any other parties present would likely get the interview thrown out. However, all interview/interrogations are recorded on a closed circut.They do this for many obvious reasons. Also so that supervisors can watch interviews from their computer.
In a some situations it might be feasible for a supervisor to allow someone to watch the interview on the computer with them. Though I'm sure they'd need a good reason.

Thanks so much!

For #3, if the arrested/interviewed suspect cannot reveal the truth to the hero (the victim's roommate who isn't a detective), what are good plausible ways to have them talk?

I'm thinking of a visitation, and I'm curious about the process. After the arrest, how long would it take before the hero could visit/talk to the suspect?

Does he have to be tried first or can a simple "chat" be done before the trial?

Akalistos:
What the craziest crime (or case) you got to work on?

I worked at a gas station a few month ago when a guy about 50 years old jump on the counter and pull a knife. I was so in shock at the crazy leap he done that it took about a minute to see the knife. I do what i was supposed to do, call the cop, ect. When the cop came,i describe everything (it wasn't my first rodeo) and tell them that he jump On the counter. The cops looked a each other. "He jump.... on the counter, right?" "Yes, officers." "And he was how old you said?" "Around fifty, and he had gray hair sir." The manager came, he showed them the tape and fair enough he jump a 3 and a half foot counter on the spot! The cop and i call him Spider-Grampa now.

Hrm as a detective... Well I've been shocked to find out how many times someone will be mowing their yard or working in thier garden and someone else will just walk right into their house grab a few choice items and exit. Brass Balls.
The weirdest one I can think of is when a guy with Dwarfism robbed a bar. He was pretty easy to catch because there just aren't that many african-american dwarves with gold teeth around with a previous robbery record. He also drove a conversion van with a space-scape painted on the side. Again, not many of those.

ace_of_something:
After the sexy success of my Ask a Cop/Jailer Thread which refused to die over the course of a year.
I've decided to educate you escapists on detective-ing.
I come from a big group of gumshoes.
My uncle (whom I am named after) was one of the first local departments to do the whole 'pretending to be a 14 year old girl on the internet' schtick. He began doing this in about 1995. He now is retired but travels around the country as a consultant helping departments set up pedophile sting operations.
Another uncle who is one year from retiring in the(Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.) He has 19 years in this department under his belt and 9 years in on Cook County Sheriff's before that (that would be Chicago)
My older brother has been a homicide detective in TX. He has been assigned this duty for about three years. He has been a cop for a total of 17 years.
My twin brother is on the city police in the area we live in and has been a SCU (Sexual Based Crimes Unit) for about two years. He has about 8 years experience all together. Before that he worked in the gang unit.
I myself worked as a vice officer on the city police for 3 years. (this ended about 5 years ago) I had a brief run as a corrections officer before switching over to the county sheriff (about 1/2 the size of the city police) on the sheriff's department I have been in 'Crimes Against Property' division for about 7 or 8 months now. I aspire one day to hit the big show. That would be Homicide or the ATF.
This is all not counting my other brother who is a cop but not a detective and one who works as an investigator for Union Pacific Railroad.

I have an MS in Sociology/Criminology. I am constantly reading new techniques and memoirs of detectives.

Most of my knowledge is strictly in the American procedure but I've been trying to learn more about the UK.

As with the ask a cop. Keep it civil and you will get as straight an answer as I can offer. Try to keep your questions in the realm of detectivery and under cover coppery.

edit: I just remembered I have a 2nd Cousin that works as some sort of Detective in Troms County Norway. I almost never talk to the guy though.
And another 2nd cousin who works as some sort of Cop in Bergen.

Is a knife considered a concealed weapon in Florida? Do I need a license to carry my 8.5in combat knife?

Blindswordmaster:

Is a knife considered a concealed weapon in Florida? Do I need a license to carry my 8.5in combat knife?

Concealed Weapon Laws for both firearms and edged weapons are usually determined by the city or county that you reside in. I really wouldn't know for Florida.
Though outside of the most rural of counties I can't imagine many places that would allow you to carry around a knife with a blade that size without some sort of registration or container. No, not a sheath more like a box or something.

Do criminals walk free as often as television portrays? Or do the good guys not lose that often? And why does American hold 25% of the world's population of prisoners?

Would it be alright if I called on you for research? I've been looking around for something that could help me in my research into detective work but haven't had much luck, so having someone like you would help be immensly.

ajong14:

Thanks so much!

For #3, if the arrested/interviewed suspect cannot reveal the truth to the hero (the victim's roommate who isn't a detective), what are good plausible ways to have them talk?

I'm thinking of a visitation, and I'm curious about the process. After the arrest, how long would it take before the hero could visit/talk to the suspect?

Does he have to be tried first or can a simple "chat" be done before the trial?

Trials, particularly murder trials at their quickest can be 2-3 months away from the day the suspect is charged. More commonly it's nearly a year before the trial. Most of the time unless the suspect is very rich he will not be able to afford the bond to get out of jail while he awaits trial.

As far as how visits work. There are as many different policies on how visits work in a jail as their are jails in the united states. Everyone does it differently. Few allow vistors who don't show identification. Nearly all require you to submit to some kind of (usually minor) background check and the same amount of security you'd see at an airport. Often times visits can only be conducted in the day time (say 9am-5pm) and have a time limit.

Another question, I'm not sure if you've been asked before but....

Is it all worth it?

At the end of the day do you feel good about what you do or any sense that you've bettered the world in some way, or do you just feel it's another day at the job?

Also, is it anything like on Law and Order? (Or SVU considering I watch that one frequently)

How do you feel about all the videos and stories surfacing about cops attacking people for apparently no reason at all, and how much people start to hate cops because of this ? I live in oregon where they're has been much violence towards cops this year, but stories of cops being unfair to people are more popular, but then youtube has tons of videos depicting cops mauling people who have probably already passed out.

I've got a question, more relating to PIs but I'm hoping you can answer anyway.

There's doctor-patient privilage, and lawyer-client privilage. Is there a similar thing that prevents a PI from being called to testify against a client? If so, how far does it extend?

I think this has been one of the better and most eye-opening threads I've seen. I don't have any questions because I feel everyone has asked them. All I will say is thank you for the hard work you do every day. Now, I don't live where you live, but I'm sure the people in your community appreciate what you do.

Do you think its videogames that cause violence, or yknow, drug dealers and money? Sorry if that was a leading question.

Will the Great:
I've got a question, more relating to PIs but I'm hoping you can answer anyway.

There's doctor-patient privilage, and lawyer-client privilage. Is there a similar thing that prevents a PI from being called to testify against a client? If so, how far does it extend?

Nope, there isn't. There's only 4 ways to get out of testifying if supenoaed You've mentioned two of them, the other is being married to the defendant. The last is being comatose or dead.

How do your experiences from work effect the type of video games you play?

I can see from before that you were rather against the idea of shooting someone, does this stay the same for video games?

What's the law on vigilantes where you live? What's your opinion of them, have you ever seen one or had to deal with one? Were they dressed like a superhero?

I'm sure this has been asked before, but which firearm did you carry when you were undercover?

DonPauliani:
Do criminals walk free as often as television portrays? Or do the good guys not lose that often? And why does American hold 25% of the world's population of prisoners?

Hrm. The thing is it's not as black and white as TV. Your idea of walking free and mine may be very different. For example 'work release' or 'day reporting' forms of probation might be seen as 'walking free' but they aren't. Very few cases actually get a jury trial. Usually those are reserved for felony cases where the defendant doesn't want to plead out. Cases that actually have a jury, and not just a judge, have a much lower conviction rate. Though part of this is because when a lawyer advises his client (the defendant) to go to trial and not plead guilty. It's because he thinks he can actually win. They encourage the defendant to plead guilty when there is even a 50/50 chance of losing.

The factors leading to america's high amount of prisoners are incalcuable. One is we give longer sentances than most countries with similar populations to ours we are also, despite popular belief, much more likely to give a life term than capital punishment. Another reason is that our prisoners are treated better and given better health care (and therefor live longer) than most nations of comperable size. Though these are just some of the factors it's too complex to anaylize completely here.

Julianking93:
Another question, I'm not sure if you've been asked before but....

Is it all worth it?

At the end of the day do you feel good about what you do or any sense that you've bettered the world in some way, or do you just feel it's another day at the job?

Also, is it anything like on Law and Order? (Or SVU considering I watch that one frequently)

Of course it is. I'm helping the community and the victims, even doing a small amount of good in this world is something worth doing. Some days are harder than others for sure but you've just got to hold on to the good moments.
Law & Order is probably the closest to real life but still pretty far off base. Real life isn't that dramatic and we don't usually get to work one case at time.

Sorry for the necro post, but what is the deal with uniforms? Are cops allowed to run around in civilian clothing like Bruce Willis in every cop movie he is in?

DarkDain:
How do you feel about all the videos and stories surfacing about cops attacking people for apparently no reason at all, and how much people start to hate cops because of this ? I live in oregon where they're has been much violence towards cops this year, but stories of cops being unfair to people are more popular, but then youtube has tons of videos depicting cops mauling people who have probably already passed out.

The media has a bias. Not against cops but against telling the whole story. They often leave out bits or report before they know everything. This goes the other way just as often. "Police have arrested Joe Doe" when in fact we were only questioning him or worse, LOOKING for him.
That being said police are humans too, like any job there are people who shouldn't be there either from the start or over time they've gone bad. I'm not going to pretend like it never happens, but for every one video on the internet you see there are about 1000 times a cop didn't over-react. Another factor in those videos is often times you don't see what lead up to the beating. You can really get worked up chasing a guy for 5 blocks. Other times is when someone swallows something which WILL kill them if they ingest it. That has caused more than one officer to get carried away.
All in all though investigations should be done and are in those instances.

Flauros:
Do you think its videogames that cause violence, or yknow, drug dealers and money? Sorry if that was a leading question.

I have yet to see any concrete proof besides suppositions that video games directly cause violent behaivor without any other enviornmental factors.

Big Max:
How do your experiences from work effect the type of video games you play?

I can see from before that you were rather against the idea of shooting someone, does this stay the same for video games?

One of my favorite games is Saints Row 2, because I know it's a GAME.
Typically, I don't like first person shooters but that's because I'm very bad at them because I try to use real world logic to using a firearm. That and lately they all feel really samey. The same goes for racing games the physics are either too clunky or so unrealistic I get frusterated. I'm not sure how much of that is from my job though.
...
When I was a kid I LOVED adventure games particularly the Police Quest series. I must've played all of them 50 times. (if they were released today they'd probably be M+) If you can find it the old Blade Runner game from Westwood (not based on the movie) was very good as well. Having multiple endings depending on your course of action.
I REALLY didn't like Heavy Rain... I'm still not sure why.

Dr Ampersand:
What's the law on vigilantes where you live? What's your opinion of them, have you ever seen one or had to deal with one? Were they dressed like a superhero?

Well vigilantism, like in most places, is illegal. In addition it's dangerous and stupid. Outside of gang warfare I haven't dealt with vigilantes. Due to gangs Omertà code a lot of crimes against gang members go unreported or even if reported due to non-cooperative victims, unsolved. So they often take it upon themselves to go shoot the guy that robbed them. Man gang members do dress very stupidly and could constitute a costume.

Echer123:
I'm sure this has been asked before, but which firearm did you carry when you were undercover?

Typically I carried no firearm because that would look suspicious in 95% of situations. The goal was too look as little like a cop as possible. Carrying a Burner was rarely something a junkie would do going to buy drugs. The only time I carried a gun was when the guys in the gang GAVE me one. (which later became evidence because it was stolen) If I were in a situation where I carried a gun that would usually be more like a 'sting' in which case the Standard issue Glock 22 or 23 series.

Amazing thread.

As a Police Officer, there must be lots of training, and with training comes subject specific terminology.

Can you give some examples of daily 'Cop' jargon?

I have been going to college for a year now and have taken several Digital Forensics courses, with the idea of making it my career. Have you ever dealt in/with that sort of are of expertise?

Uh, I've got another one. I hear you've got bounty hunter over there in the US, yes? If so, do you think they make your police job easier or are they rather disturbing?

Kollega:
Are donuts really that popular among you? Or there are other, even better snacks?

Well, I'm not a cop but I work at a donut shop. This belief comes from the fact that it used to be that the only restaurants that were open all night were donut shops. I have a cop phobia somewhat so it's odd that I work there.

Queen Michael:
I, Michael from Sweden, wonders this: Is the eating of donuts really as prevalent as clichés suggest?

That cliche comes from the fact that donut shops used to be the only restaurants that were open all night. I work at a Dunkin' Donuts.

Pimppeter2:
How accurate portrayal of you life is Undercover Brother?

More like. How accurate portrayal of your life is Sabotage by Beastie Boys.

When it comes to under-cover sting operations, what rights do the detectives have in dealing with the subject of their operation? Like, what can they do and what can't they do? Rather I am thinking of how much they can monitor of the subject, where they can monitor the subject, and with what methods. I remember hearing somewhere that you can record anyone's phone/in your immediate vicinity conversation as long as one person who is being recorded knows about it. Though I have always doubted this ever since I have heard it. Perhaps you can clarify this for me. Thanks ^~^!

Tdc2182:
Sorry for the necro post, but what is the deal with uniforms? Are cops allowed to run around in civilian clothing like Bruce Willis in every cop movie he is in?

The uniform is to make police readily recognizable. If people didn't have some obvious way to identify us when you need help anyone could claim to be a cop. Typically only detectives, really high up people, are 'un-uniformed' usually called Plainclothes.

LordCuthberton:
Amazing thread.

As a Police Officer, there must be lots of training, and with training comes subject specific terminology.

Can you give some examples of daily 'Cop' jargon?

Wow ya know, there are hundreds of things but when asked point blank i can't think of many.
Hrm...
'Beertarded' or 'weedtarded' are what we call people who have done permanent brain damage to themselves through substance abuse.
a 311 is when someone is nude in public. (though number codes depend on the department)
a Red Ball is a high profile case that the media is crawling all over.
Cases 'in the black' have been solved (or at least are pending a court case) 'in the red' are unsolved. This is due to an old practice when they used to write cases on a dry erase board. Though now we do it all on computers and still use the 'red/black' color scheme.

Deofuta:
I have been going to college for a year now and have taken several Digital Forensics courses, with the idea of making it my career. Have you ever dealt in/with that sort of are of expertise?

Most of the people who pull data off computers for us work for independent companies and are contracted to do such. Though in larger departments (Like say Los Angeles) they have people on staff. Most of the people that work for the company we use say they work two jobs because the cashflow is so inconsistent. We have begun working with them more lately, especially on fraud stuff (Like craigslist scams for instance). The people who use them the most are definitely Sex Crimes unit.

Quaxar:
Uh, I've got another one. I hear you've got bounty hunter over there in the US, yes? If so, do you think they make your police job easier or are they rather disturbing?

That's actually a misconception. Bounty Hunters are not legal in every state. My state for instance, does not have bounty hunters OR bail bondsman.
a Bail Bondsman is basically a place that will loan you money for bail (so you don't have to wait in jail for trial) and you pay them back, with huge interest. If you don't report to trial you have 'jumped bail' and are now given a new 'failure to appear' charge. If it's for a felony or you leave the county you live in it will be 'fugitive from justice' (which is a more severe charge).
This is where bounty hunters come in. Despite the way TV makes it look most bounty hunters do NOT go after murderers or that sort of thing. Typically they go after 'mid level' offenders domestic abuse for example. We don't usually want them to go after the most dangerous people because we fear them getting hurt. Often times companies that bounty hunt are ALSO bail bondsman.
I think bail bondsman are kind of a scam and prey on desperate people in bad situations. When they are also bounty hunters often times it feels like the intentionally pay the bond of high flight risks so they can collect the bounty on the guy when he runs off (which is usually higher than the bond originally was)
Regular Bounty hunters are helpful in increasing the manpower needed to catch fugitives. That being said a LOT of cases are thrown out because bounty hunters tend to do stupid things like leaving a guys house open after they catch him so any extra evidence that may have been inside is burglarized.
Also, i can't recall the exact statistic but the amount of fugitives that use bail bondsman is astronomically high. That is part of the reason many states don't use them anymore.

How much force are you allowed to use if a suspect is armed?

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