U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Community Group Assistance to Criminal Investigations (From Neighborhood Based Arson Control - Collected Papers, P 78-86, 1985 - See NCJ-98175)

NCJ Number
J Murphy; M Friedland
Date Published
10 pages
Ways that citizens can assist the police in investigating arsons that have occurred in their neighborhoods include providing information on the fired building's condition prior to the fire and researching public records to obtain such facts as building ownership and recorded code violations.
Community crime prevention organizations and other community groups can be instrumental in encouraging witnesses to speak to investigators and in providing arson investigators with the names and addresses of persons familiar with the building's condition prior to the fire. They can research public records to determine the ownership of a fired building, building code violations, and any legal action being taken against either the owner or occupants. Community residents also can alert authorities to the existence of buildings that are vacant and frequently used by 'street' people and drug abusers and press for action to seal up these buildings. Citizen research should be presented to the appropriate authorities in an organized and thorough report, and community organizations and residents should avoid assuming the role of the investigator. All efforts should be undertaken in cooperation with and under the guidance of the police investigator, and, during investigations, these groups must be aware of the parameters of criminal justice proceedings, particularly concerning confidentiality and sufficient evidence to prove culpability beyond a reasonable doubt.