Cops, I mean real life long cops in both commitment and talent, come to the career possessed with passion to fix all the wrongs in the world. By the time they hang it up most cops know they’ve made a positive difference in the daily lives of individuals they have protected and served.
And then there are those who come to the profession possessed with passion and leave it haunted by one case.
If a police career takes that fateful turn there will be that one unsolved case, that one victim, that one set of circumstances and that one suspect that will forever haunt that cop. Not long after the luster of unsuccessful headline searches, crime scenes searches which have turned up nothing, and a non-named suspect who is still suspect, the haunting of that career will be have begun and in truth will be undeniable. While others get to move on, these cops will have no choice but to chase this ghost.
June 4 marks the third anniversary of the criminal acts by the criminal suspect(s) associated with the unsolved and cold case disappearance of Kyron Horman from his “safe” school surroundings. And although the end of the story is yet to be written, careers in the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office are beginning to feel the haunting.
Not long after the luster of unsuccessful headline searches, non-crime-crime-scenes-searches which have turned up nothing, and a non-named-suspect-who-is-still-suspected, the haunting began. Others move on to marathon street bombings and other more recent high profile criminal acts. The Kyron cops will have no choice in their minds but to resolve what may look to others like the unsolvable.
I know these are real cops by true definition. Committed and talented, nonetheless they are now clearly looking in the rear-view mirror wondering how it might have been different. There will be no second guessing out loud but privately there will much unresolved professional angst.
The haunting drives a motivation for continuing what is seemingly a go no investigation and comes complete with a competitive drive not to be outsmarted and –worse yet- to acknowledge defeat. Publicly it will be about answers for the family and justice for Kyron. Privately it will be about getting the ghost out of the room.
There is a true sense of professional loss in the Kyron case already. Regardless of the end result, there is already a substantial fear of losing the public’s confidence. In that rear-view mirror the what ifs include whether the technical part of the investigation was sound. It sure doesn’t look like it from the outside. Here the working cops can claim a clear disclaimer.
The public view is an investigative series of “almost” and continual promises of progress the results of which were “just around the corner”. But there are other obvious problems with the case:
- It is search and rescue operations with no rescue and searches of no evidentiary value.
- It is a very prominent announcement of a task force that came as news to some agencies who were named as participants.
- It is a still-breathing but dormant, record length Grand Jury with no indictment in sight.
- It is the fact that a clearly criminal investigation and prosecution at very high levels have spent much more time arguing in traditional civil and divorce courts than in criminal court.
Who cares? To any of the public who may still be tuned in, it all sounds a lot like “never mind”. And you ask why is this important? Because on August 1 the beat goes on and if you are still out there you may want to tune in again or maybe not?
So return with me to the civil courtroom of Judge Henry Kantor November 28, 2012. You will might recall with the urgency that only a motion from the District Attorney and the Sheriff themselves could create August 1, 2013 as the new date which would cause sealed document breathlessness in this investigation.
You will certainly remember that Judge Kantor would grant a delay in the civil bout with Desiree Young in one corner and Terri Horman in the other until August 1. The public impression must have been that the judge’s decision was in support of clear statements coming out of the investigation that there had been significant progress (almost there!) in the case. And the fear was that statements given during the civil proceeding would complicate the (just around the corner!) completion or at least important movement of the criminal investigation. The judge made the right call; in fact it was the only call he could make.
If there was nothing magical about August 1, then what next? It sure seemed like there was something we should be waiting for and maybe there will be. But if there is not and there is no reasonable (forget rational) explanation, then the case has been put at risk of becoming irrelevant. Kyron himself and the public’s confidence are tossed aside.
Blame for a unsolved crimes is not the issue here. There are many. But measured, meaningful and accountable public communication is the least to expect. If there is nothing we can rely on then don’t say anything.
When inexperienced top guns in police administrations want to act like the titanic has not sunk they begin the verbal rope a dope. To the public it may only be an annoyance. But the bigger problem is that play by play communication strategy puts immense pressure on the working cops that face the facts as they really are and the public everyday. When it is made sound like this or any high profile investigation is all but wrapped up they are ones left in our communities to answer for the opposite. And when August 1 rolls around it will be the cops that will be asking, “and now what”?
The greatest risk of all is that the best investigative minds working on this investigation will only be distracted by a Ouija board communication strategy. And frankly, I want to have the cops laser focused for the next two months so they can find the missing link in this case which is getting ever colder.
More than anything, when August 1 comes I want to be to say say that my instincts were wrong and that the haunting is over for all of us. And that justice delayed for Kyron is not justice denied.