Sunday, January 13, 2013

Did the failure of police hurt investigation?

Young Mother Found Murdered in Trunk

Would the use of the Emergency Exception to the 4th Amendment Helped?

By: Joseph L. Giacalone

Ebony Jackson
St. Louis Crime Stoppers
Breckenridge Hills, MO

- I was interviewed for this case in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Ebony Jackson, a young mother, was found in the trunk of her car by police days after waiting to obtain a warrant to turn on her vehicle's GPS device according to reports and public outcry. The victim's family and the public are upset about what is perceived as a lack of urgency by the Breckenridge Hills Police Department to find Ms. Jackson and now to solve the case.

In this situation, the police should have found themselves using the Emergency Exception to the 4th Amendment instead of losing valuable time. The exigent circumstances in this particular case would have allowed a lawful search of any location, in this case an auto, without obtaining a warrant, because there is an immediate need to preserve life. The Emergency Exception can also be used to prevent evidence from being destroyed. There is no guarantee that if they would have found the car earlier that Ebony Jackson would still be alive. There is all likelihood that the mother was already dead, but you cannot assume this when someone could be taking their last breaths.

The Breckenridge Hills Police is a very small department and has asked the St. Louis Police to aid in the investigation. Ms. Jackson's baby was found safe in an abandoned apartment house. More than likely, after Ms. Jackson was murdered, the perpetrator(s) decided to ensure the child's safety, which would mean to me a certain level of reasoning.

Unfortunately, this is a trend that we have seen before. Smaller police departments in suburban areas lack the funds for the proper police training and the experience of handling major investigations. There is no magic pill to fix this issue, however, police administrators can tap into the wider range of police experience from their closest largest municipality. Inner city police departments often deal with more cases, so they would be able to share their experiences. 

The police are asking anyone with information to please call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371-8477. All callers and information will be kept strictly confidential. You can even submit a tip online.

To read more about this case and my interview

After reading about the case, what do you think the police should have done? What should they be doing?

Related Articles:

The Importance of Proper Evidence Handling
5 Reasons Why Cases Go Cold
6 Mistakes to Avoid at a Crime Scene

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