Psychics and Cops Friends or Foes?
(c) Atham-Z 2005

It is quite understandable that our law enforcement professionals would be highly skeptical of "psychically" acquired information, considering the number of psychic frauds they expose every year! On the other hand, popular fiction by best selling authors currently offers a spate of tales about psychics helping police solve crimes. Obviously the general public desires that whatever extrasensory ability exists, be put to good use to help people in general.

John Douglas, a retired FBI Criminal Profiler is quoted as saying, "Psychics can, on occasion, be helpful to a criminal investigation. I've seen it work. Some of them have the ability to focus subconsciously on particular subtle details at a scene and draw logical conclusions from them, just as I try to do and train my people to do. But I always advise investigators that a psychic should be a last resort as an investigative tool, and if you're going to use one, don't expose him or her to officers or detectives who know the details of the case. Because good psychics are proficient at picking up small, non-verbal clues, and the psychic could amaze you and establish credibility by giving back to you facts of the case you already know without necessarily having any particular insight into what you don't know but want to find out."

Psychics familiar with crime investigation state that the police are too embarrassed to admit they do sometimes use psychics while some forces dismiss them outright because they do not understand them. On the other hand, it is obviously an outright nuisance and hindrance for investigators to process or follow up every "wannabe" psychic's notions. If psychic information was openly solicited, particularly in cases of national interest, there would be many thousands of suggestions that could obscure legitimate information from an actual witness tipster.

Scotland Yard confirms they have consulted a psychic in the past to help them with an investigation and the National Crime and Operations Faculty confirms their database has certain individuals registered as available psychics.

In Boston in 1981, a Harvard student disappeared. One psychic envisioned her body in a Connecticut pond. Nine years after the disappearance the student's skeleton was discovered, by a woman walking her dog, five miles from that particular pond. From my perspective, that type of fuzzy, somewhat imprecise, information is typical of psychic insight but police are reluctant to rely on psychics, probably in part because the information is not specific or exact enough.

The use of psychics is controversial among law enforcement professionals. Yet such use is viewed favourably, because of television shows, the Internet and telephone psychics. While a few agencies across the country, most notably the Fresno (Calif.) Police Department, often have used psychics, many police investigators say they often lead an investigation down the wrong path or give false hope to grieving family members. "I've never heard of or received information (from a psychic) that has even helped solve a case," said Sgt. Gary Plank, a criminal profiler with the Nebraska State Patrol. Representatives of three Nebraska agencies - the State Patrol, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Adams County Sheriff's Office - said they would not employ a psychic in a criminal investigation, although they wouldn't completely ignore their tips.

With the imprecise nature of psychic insight, interpreting the tip can be almost impossible. One family whose daughter went missing in 1997 said tips from psychics were helpful. The information forwarded by two psychics - one from Denver who was contacted by a cousin, and one from the east coast who volunteered information - was similar. Both, psychics told searchers to look at irregularly shaped, abandoned buildings, maybe a log cabin, near water, near fish and near hayfields. "These were two different people from two different places, so we asked ourselves, 'Is it going to hurt to take them up on their leads?'" The psychics' information, plus a tip that a county worker had seen a car speeding towards a northern lake, inspired family members to continue searching on their own. They found the girl's body at an L-shaped, abandoned farmhouse a couple of hundred yards from that lake.

In another case about a different missing girl, when the family contacted a psychic they were told that the child was dead and that they could find her body near "something that smelled really bad." A jawbone, later identified as belonging to the girl, was found by a canoeist on the riverbank of a nearby city. The mother said the site was not too far down river from an industrial plant commonly known to emit bad odours. Authorities did not utilize the psychic information.

Tim McFadden, a retired Fresno police detective said more police don't use psychics "because of one word: ego."


This page was created March 31, 2005.