U.S. Cold Case Squads Fighting For Life
That was today’s ominous headline in a USA Today article… but it certainly could apply to Canada’s cold case squads too. Just ask Kathy Caughlin—sister of Karen Caughlin, a 14-year-old who was brutally beaten to death 34 years ago in Petrolia, Ontario. Kathy wrote an email to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Julian Fantino two weeks ago begging to keep that province’s Historical Investigations Unit alive.
Fortunately, her pleas were heard. Although on life support, the OPP cold case team has been given a one-year reprieve. (http://news.therecord.com/article/300568)
But after that…what happens?
Statistics Canada says approximately 3,600 homicides (15%) have gone unsolved in this country since 1961 (Nov. 8, 2006, StatsCan “The Daily”). If that statistic doesn’t make you nervous, then change the numbers around.
It means that thousands of murderers, currently roaming our neighbourhoods, will continue to do so unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes his tough-on-crime stance one step farther.
Yes. We need tougher legislation. Yes. We need anti-drug strategies. Yes. We need to combat terrorism. But we also need to bring each and every killer to justice. And hiring more police officers to patrol our streets isn’t going to cut it.
We need some of those police officers in cold case squad rooms doing investigative work. And they need the budget, the human resources and the political support to make EVERY murder case a priority. Just because a case isn’t easy to solve doesn’t make it any less important.
Does equality for all Canadians only apply to those who are living?
Excerpts from USA Today articles
– Andy Rosenzweig, a former lieutenant in the New York Police Department, said about 60% of all murders go unsolved.
– Federal funding for cold case squads dropped by 40% in 2007, falling to $8.5 million from $14.2 million in 2005, according to the (US) National Institute of Justice.
– “Sgt. John Jackson, who supervises the St. Louis Police Department’s cold case squad, said the first step in cold case investigations is getting the file into working order. Over years, detective’s notes get lost, evidence is misplaced and information can be stored in different locations.”
– “The lack of proper case file organization, the lack of following all leads, too much tunnel vision — it all hinders solvability issues tremendously,” said James Adcock, an instructor at the institute.