Kim Rossmo (MA’87, PhD’96) takes a serious but fascinating look at some of the reasons why police work doesn’t always succeed. The reasons fall into three broad categories: cognitive biases, including perception, intuition, and tunnel vision; organizational traps, including groupthink, rumour, and ego; and errors in probability, including chance and randomness in forensics and profiling.
The cases used as illustrations of Rossmo’s thesis range from well-known miscarriages of justice (David Milgaard, Donald Marshall, and Guy Paul Morin) to investigations that didn’t begin early enough (the murders of women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside), to unsolved cases (most particularly the haunting murder of Theresa Allore in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1978).
The book concludes with specific recommendations to help police departments avoid some of the investigative pitfalls Rossmo has identified, thus minimizing the chance of wrongful conviction and improving detective work.
Rossmo holds the University Endowed Chair in Criminology and is the director of the Centre for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation in the Department of Criminal Justice at Texas State University. He is also an adjunct professor at SFU. Contributors to the book include Neil Boyd, SFU criminology professor, and Doug A. LePard (BA’01), deputy chief constable commanding the investigative division of the Vancouver Police Department.