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Cult Investigation: A Devilish Problem

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 35 Issue: 4 Dated: (April 1987) Pages: 56-60
A G Sharp
Date Published
5 pages
This article discusses the difficulty police officers have in ascertaining possible criminal aspects of cult activities and the inexperience of police departments in dealing with cult cases.
Factors which make cult-related investigations among the 'trickiest cases' confronting police departments include the confusion about the difference between cult activities and devil worship and the absence of specific laws aimed at curbing cult activities and religious intervention. To illustrate, a classic example of an alleged cult activity which took place in Rocky Hill, Conn., in 1986 is described. An explanation is presented of a rumor of an alleged devil cult group, which began as a prank, degenerated into stories of planning kidnappings and human sacrifice. Police investigated the 'bizarre' case, but found no criminal evidence. A recent survey of 20 police departments across the country found that 11 had never investigated cult activities. Three ways to prepare police officers to deal with cult activity cases are suggested: (1) train police to deal with satanic cult/occult crimes and investigations, (2) use outside experts to train police officers, and (3) subscribe to appropriate police literature to provide current information. It is suggested that police make certain there is an actual crime or threat of crime before becoming involved in cult cases.