Michael Tabman

Why Name a Suspect?

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on December 7, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Naming a suspect seems to be life imitating art – a media affectation that law enforcement apparently feels compelled to adopt. To soften the blow, the term “person of interest” is sometimes used. I recall the Attorney General once naming someone as a person of interest when discussing a high profile case. That surprised me. During my earlier years in the FBI, we were trained to be extremely cautious when speaking to the media. Implicating somebody should not be taken lightly. In recent history, people in high profile cases have been falsely accused.

There is neither a formal process nor a requirement for naming a suspect. A suspect is whomever the investigators believe may be responsible for the crime. The question of whether a person is a suspect is most often at issue during an interview/interrogation and whether Miranda rights should be read. I see no law enforcement value in publicly naming a person a suspect. When sufficient evidence exists – make the arrest.

There is nothing wrong with feeding the media and assuring the public that the police are making progress. But, let actions speak louder than words. Publicly naming a suspect will most likely cause more problems from a criminal procedure and civil perspective than it will advance the investigation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: