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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Montgomery County Police Address Reporters

Aired October 6, 2002 - 17:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Now on to another investigation, a widespread investigation in the nation's capital area. Montgomery County, Maryland Police Chief Charles Moose is talking now, updating reporters there on the investigation involving seven now shootings in the Metro area. Let's listen in.
CHARLES MOOSE, CHIEF OF POLICE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD: ... use this, too. I was able to assign the management of this whole process over to assistant Chief Dee Walker, and at this point, I'm going to introduce to you Assistant Chief Dee Walker who will expand on my comments.

DEE WALKER, ASSISTANT CHIEF OF POLICE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: Good evening. Geographic profiling is a strategic information management system that has been used successfully in the investigation of serial violent crime. This system is essentially a scientific method that can be used to manage and filter the volumes of information that tends to be generated in cases like ours here in Montgomery County.

It is important to understand that this is not a system that is intended to predict future events or possible characteristics of offenders.

I would like to now introduce to you Dr. D. Kim Rossmo. Dr. Rossmo is a former detective inspector with the Vancouver Police Department. He is currently the director of research for the Police Foundation. He has graciously offered his time and his expertise to us and to our investigators here in an effort to assist with this complex investigation. I've asked him to come today to talk to you more about the geographic profiling tool and about how it can be of assistance to law enforcement agencies engaged in conducting investigations of large magnitude.

I would remind you all, please, that Dr. Rossmo has encouraged us to not to release specific information regarding this result, and I would ask you to respect that as a ground rule for this briefing.

I would also like to introduce supervisory special agent Ronda Trahern (ph) of the ATF. She is currently engaged in the geographic profiling fellowship training program under Dr. Rossmo's guidance.

Dr. Rossmo.

KIM ROSSMO, GEOGRAPHIC PROFILER: Good afternoon. Let me start off by saying that there's only three ways a crime can be solved. Physical evidence, eyewitnesses, or a confession. A profile is neither of those.

What a profile can do, whether it's psychological or geographic, is to provide a way for police and investigators to manage the large volume of information that comes in these types of cases. It's not unusual to see hundreds or thousands of tips coming in. We end up with a classic needle in the haystack problem.

Geographic profiling uses the crime locations associated to a single offender, whether it's a serial murderer or a rapist, someone engaged in a bank robbery spree or a number of burglaries, use of stolen credit cards, fraud, doesn't matter. It uses those locations through a complex algorithm that's incorporated into a computer system, called Reigel (ph), that will produce for us some idea of the likely base of residence of the offender responsible.

The purpose of this tool is then to assist investigators in managing the information. In effect, it provides an optimal search strategy, whether we're looking through data bases, processing the tips, registered sex offenders, owners of blue trucks, whatever.

In the information that you've been handed, I believe there is an article from "Police Chief" magazine that discusses geographic profiling and some of the associated strategies that have been generally used with the process. You also have one-color sheet that shows you a typical geographic profile.

This was the result of an analysis of 32 armed robberies in Vancouver, British Columbia. The dark orange part of the profile shows the most probable area of offender's residence, followed by the yellows, greens, purples and then grays.

This is an output from a computer. A geographic profile typically involves such a map. And then suspects, tips and other information that has a geographic component can be placed on that map, and the information then prioritized. Typically, a successful investigation will involve multiple prioritization tools in which the geographic profile is just one of them.

Geographic profiling was started as a result of research done at the school of criminology, Simon Frazier University in Burnabee (ph), British Columbia. The first such profile was prepared in 1990. Currently, geographic profiling capabilities exist within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the British National Crime Faculty, and with this new program, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

I think at this point that it provides a brief introduction, and I would like to see if there's any questions associated with geographic profiling as a general investigative methodology.

QUESTION: How much does it complicate your job to have crimes committed here and as far away as Fredericksburg?

ROSSMO: That's not a complication, but really I think we should steer away from this specific case in this particular series of questions and answers. QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) crimes committed 50, 70 miles apart anywhere then?

ROSSMO: That is not uncommon. It's not an issue for us.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ROSSMO: Generally, we describe the performance of a profile by how much of the area that the crimes are occurring in can we get a focus on. So if we have a number of rapes that cover an area, say, of 10 square miles, what our results show is that medium performance is about 5 percent. In other words, on average we can determine where the offender lived in that case in half a square mile.

QUESTION: What is the record of success for geographic profiling in the, what, 12 years it's been in existence?

ROSSMO: Actually, I think I just answered that. On average, we can determine where the offender lives in the top 5 percent of the area of the crimes. So if you imagine a series of rapes in a neighborhood covering 10 square miles, then the profile on average can determine where the offender lives in the top one half of a square mile.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ROSSMO: Well, we've worked on murder, rape, bombings, arsons, robberies, burglaries, credit card frauds, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), several others. There doesn't seem to be much of a relationship between the crime type and the accuracy of the profile.

QUESTION: Mainly comfortable in their home area, correct? Can you talk about that? Most crimes committed within a mile of your home, or can you give us details?

ROSSMO: Generally, journeys of crimes show that crimes occur fairly close to an offender's home but not too close. So there is a balance. In fact, if I had to describe what it looks like, it's like if you took a cross-section of a volcano. So at some point for a given offender, their desire for anonymity balances their desire to operate in their comfort zone. Where that exactly point is will vary on the offender, their degree and mode of transportation, and also maybe their degree of confidence. We also have to recognize that this can change over time as an offender matures, gains experience as well.

QUESTION: Sir, you didn't want to talk about this particular case too much. Let me just say that if you had a situation where you had a number of murders in an area, which we did last week, and then all of a sudden an hour and a half south there's another one that's linked, seems like that might through a kink into the system? No? Or at least make it more difficult?

ROSSMO: No, it doesn't.

QUESTION: How so? ROSSMO: Again, I can't go into that without really discussing the specifics of this case, but the answer to the question is that it is not an issue in terms of the analysis.

QUESTION: What about the lapse of time between the last crime committed? There being several days, nothing has taken place. What can you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ROSSMO: I will only respond that generally, we can't look at geography in isolation from time, weather, day of week. If something happens at a given location, that location is very different, depending if it's 3:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. If it's a Sunday versus a Wednesday, if it's a holiday, or it's a hot summer day or it's a rainy winter day. So time is an important element, and that's as far as I'll comment on that point.

QUESTION: If you don't want to comment specifically about this case, but this may be a question for you or Assistant Chief Walker -- how, by adding this geographic profiling, how does it strengthen this case? What message does it send to the potential killer?

MOOSE: At this point, we're not going to have the doctor take any other questions.

Again, I guess the answer to your question is, this is another tool where we're telling our community this is something that we've not used before. If you recall, it sounds like mostly it's used on Canadians, other nations, not a lot of use of this to date in the United States. But we just wanted, you know, to assure people in our community that we're willing to try each and every thing that's available to us to assist us.

It is not 100 percent. It does not mean that now the case will be closed this afternoon because we have had this work presented to us. But it does say, again, we're not willing to limit ourselves. We're willing to try anything that's available. And we really appreciate having access to this work, we appreciate the doctor's work, we appreciate the fact that ATF was willing to make him available to us.

Now, we will take this information. We've given it to our investigators, and they, again, will add it to their tool belt and will see how helpful it is.

Again, the person or the persons responsible for this, we still hope they go to a law enforcement agency, turn themselves in, and allow us to close this matter. But short of that, we're willing to use any investigative method that becomes available to us.

The next briefing will be at 9:00 p.m.

QUESTION: Chief?

MOOSE: Yeah?

QUESTION: Any questions? QUESTION: Where do you stand on the possibility...

MOOSE: I have to take some questions.

QUESTION: Where do you stand...

MOOSE: We try.

QUESTION: ... on the possibility of this being linked to terrorism, and have you made connection yet with the Department of Homeland Security?

MOOSE: Did I misunderstand the question?

QUESTION: Where do you stand on the possibility of this being linked to terrorism?

MOOSE: With regards to a link to terrorism, we have not eliminated anything. And so we, again, are trying to keep an open mind. But we have no information at this point that tells us that it is terrorism. If that information comes in, then we will certainly factor it in. But to date, we do not have that.

QUESTION: Are you consulting with federal terrorism experts?

MOOSE: We're consulting with all available federal partners.

QUESTION: Chief, a question for parents -- I'm assuming even though we're talking about a normal school day, that there will be a visible police presence around schools tomorrow?

MOOSE: With regards to a normal school day, yes, we're going to make every effort to have increased visibility. One of the things I've learned over the years is for a police department to not make promises that it cannot keep. So anyone listening to this, we did not promise to have police officers at each and every school in Montgomery County. We will make an effort to have much increased visibility around each and every school, but I cannot stand here and absolutely promise that there will be a police officer visibility at every school, every hour, every minute.

But clearly many, many of our police officers are parents. Most of our police officers live in Montgomery County. Thanks to the assistance of Gaithersburg City, Rockville City, Montgomery County Park Police, Maryland State Police, we will be able to greatly increase our visible presence in and around the public and private schools of Montgomery County tomorrow.

But again, it is not a promise to have a police officer visible at every school, every minute. But we will absolutely do our best.

WHITFIELD: You've been listening to Montgomery County, Maryland Police Chief Charles Moose, who said as we head into a new work week, they are adding to their arsenal as they continue to search for this suspect in what is now amounted to seven shootings in the Maryland/D.C. area. He says as it pertains to schoolyards, they will continue to provide as much security and enforcement as possible, but there is no promise that they'll be adding police officers to every school in which to secure a safe environment.

However, they have brought in now a geographic profiling expert, which they think is a new tool in their ongoing search, and they're hoping that this person, this geographic expert, will now be able to help them zero in on the pattern of the shootings that have taken place.

Kathleen Koch is at that press conference in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Kathleen, is it correct that it's something like a 10- mile radius when involving D.C. and Maryland shootings, and then you've got another 50 miles away, which involves the Virginia shooting. That Virginia victim, the only one who was shot and wounded, the rest of the six others were killed?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We were trying to deduce from this expert on geographic profiling what does that mean, what does that say about the shooter or shooters, and he wasn't really able to indicate that to us.

But he did, again, talk about the high degree of success that they have in using these geographic profiling in predicting where the killer lives, and he pointed out that while a killer does operate within a certain comfort zone, likes to operate in an area that he or she feels comfortable in, they are also influenced by their desire to remain anonymous, not to be committing a crime in an area where someone would easily recognize them. So that pushes them a bit beyond an area perhaps quite close to their home.

But some very interesting information, but they're not giving us any details, because clearly they want to do everything they can, Fredricka, to keep this information, keep it very close to the vest and not reveal any of it to the killer or killers, not give them any kind of idea what authorities know about how they operate.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kathleen Koch, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

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