By Hal Collier
I’m amazed when I watch TV and see the CSI shows where they ID a suspect or dead body with a portable fingerprint machine. It’s tells them within minutes who the person is and what he’s been arrested for. I really marvel when they get DNA results on the same day and I don’t know if they even have face recognition systems. These are sure not available on the street cops’ level. I had to resort to different tactics to ID my suspects. Wanted people seldom carried any kind of ID and if they did, it was false.
As I said earlier, you arrest someone and then fill out a (FI) field Interview Card. You get as much information as possible so you can positively know who you’re dealing with. Nothing stings worse than booking a guy for a misdemeanor and watching him released the next day only to find out he was wanted in another state for killing a cop.
I thought I was pretty good but no one was better than Don Bleier. Don could find out the entire criminal history of anyone including politicians. By the way, never run a politician or movie star unless you have them in custody. It sends a red flag to government agencies. Run the President of the United States for warrants and you’ll be introduced to a whole new set of police officers who have lots of questions, maybe on a U.S. base in Cuba.
Anyway, Don could do wonders with the computer in identifying a crook. How many non-cop’s know that your Social Security Number shows what state you signed up for a SS # or now days where you were born. If a suspect gives you a SS# from a state he’s claims he’s never been in, it’s a clue he’s lying.
I resorted to tricks when I hit a dead end. I had a suspect who I knew was lying but I just couldn’t ID him. I’d go into the burn box (shredder box) in records and pull out five feet of old printouts. I’d open the holding tank door and let the five feet of connected print out fall and say, “Well.” I’d tell my suspect that he had one last chance to come clean or I’d add lying to a police officer to his charges. Believe it or not, two out of three suspects would give me their true name and DOB. Remember I wasn’t dealing with the top of the food chain. After a while, I became known as the “Well” officer at Hollywood.
Another time I tried ‘Well” and my suspect didn’t flinch. I told him that it didn’t matter that he was going to be extradited to Texas on a murder warrant. I mentioned that Texas not only has a death penalty but they actually use it. Surprise, he gave up his real name faster than I could write it down.
I once had a suspect who gave me his name, DOB, prison ID (CDC) number. Everything checked out and when I printed out his rap sheet, I read the last entry. It said, “Deceased in Prison!” He looked pretty good for a dead person. My suspect admitted that he had memorized his former cellmate’s information. He confessed and gave me his true name; he was wanted for a parole violation. Another trick was to run the home address of your suspect for warrants. That will show you all the warrants filed at that address. Hint: never run 226 S. Main St LA. That’s the Union Rescue Mission downtown and will kick out warrants for hours on your computer. Most homeless people use that address when arrested or given a ticket.
One last story, I had a suspect who I couldn’t ID. I was about to release him when another officer walked in the back door of the police station and said hi to my suspect by a name I wasn’t familiar with. That officer knew my suspect very well and gave me all his names and that he was wanted! Luck also pays off.
Matching wits with the criminal element was easy for the most part but every once on a while you lose. It was many of the games cops and robbers play to find the truth.