Webinar presenter Adam Ricci answered a number of your questions after his presentation, “Advanced Components of Animal Cruelty Investigations.” Here are a few of his responses.
Audience Question: One key issue of using your own personal cellphone is that it could be subpoenaed as evidence. How do you recommend addressing this possibility?
Adam Ricci: If you’re able to convince your department to like purchasing your own like department cellphone, that is actually my recommendation. More times than not I’m sure they are providing you with some level of a camera, I hope. It is actually cheaper to give you a cellphone than it is to purchase a camera. That’s what we do here in Albuquerque. Every officer has their own cellphone which they utilize. If you don’t you have to use what you got there. The whole motion of cellphone being subpoenaed is really kind of outdated. I don’t really hear it ever really happening. The big thing is as long as you are turning everything in and your photo number stay in line, there’s really not much reason for them to come and want to take your cellphone.
Audience Question: How do you build up securing the photos on your cellphones that sounds like turning that in as evidence. So it’s been stored as part of the evidence. Did I hear that correctly?
Adam Ricci: Yes. What you would be doing is basically hook up your phone to your computer whatever electronic device and just saving them all right there. Especially with cellphones nowadays. They have so much embedded in them digitally so the location, the GPS component of it, the date, the time. It gets very detailed. It’s all embedded in the photo. You can actually showcase if its the original or if it’s been edited. They can do all of that digitally now, Truly neat.
Audience Question: Across the United States, on average, about 50% of animal control officers are within the law enforcement agencies and the other 50% are not. In general, do most ACOs have working relationships with their local law enforcement agencies even if they themselves are not sworn law enforcement officers?
Adam Ricci: That’s a loaded question. I will do what I can for a fairly short response. If Julie would like to email me or call me, I can talk more in detail about that. You really need to have a good working relationship. Your animal control, whatever you’re empowered to do, is limited. Like here in Albuquerque we work closely with APD, Albuquerque Police Department. We already had two felony arrests so far this calendar year. We have cases that actually we did the investigation but they were so significant, we can’t go and arrest the person, we can’t charge a felony. So, we have to rely on those relationships with that PD and really the best way that I’ve actually seen start doing that is to hand them really good cases where they just have to go out and make the arrest. That’s what we’re doing here in Albuquerque. We’re really building up the skillset of the officers. That way, we can continue to impress our local law enforcement agencies to say wow they put good cases together and you start earning that respect that way. If you don’t have that relationship, you have to find a way to do it.
Audience Question: I was wondering if you can talk a little bit about how you do NIBRS reporting or if you don’t currently, have you heard of others doing that NIBRS reporting for animal cruelty cases?
Adam Ricci: Yes, NIBRS. What they always done is UCR reporting from the law enforcement agencies to give just the federal government an idea of what types of crimes we’re seeing per capita in what types of jurisdictions. One difficulty in the current NIBRS system is that you have to be part of law enforcement agencies in order to submit. Like me, being a separate department, right now,` we don’t have the ability to submit UCR data. Then the other complication is animal welfare control software — Chameleon, Petpoint, Shelter Buddy aren’t actually set up to collect all the data points that UCR has. I haven’t actually been part of it. But I do know my old agency back in Maine because of what we are doing, how we do UCR reporting that we would actually able to write down what type of animal offenses that are there. Those will get reported upwards to the Federal Government so that they can continue to see how significant portion of animal cruelty as far as a crime.
Audience Question: Can you explain what pipe cleaners are used for again?
Adam Ricci: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s the type of pipe cleaners. The one that you would want to purchase are the ones who are actually designed to clean an actual smoking pipe. What you are actually doing is there is a chemical component that you use in pipe cleaners that for the smoking pipe kind. What it does is it actually has a chemical reaction with the, when the superglue is put on it. It actually starts a fumigation process. That’s what you’re really doing with it. You’re using that pipe cleaner as a chemical reaction.
Audience Question: One of our attendees, Joy, actually suggested that you might want to include a rape kit in your go bag for bestiality cases. We’re wondering if you can talk a little bit about that as well.
Adam Ricci: If you’re getting something like bestiality, I would recommend that you might want to bring that up to a veterinarian. At the same time, you might want to have a kit with you so that, they might not have the items that you need. That’s a really great point. Also at the same time, you might want to read up a little bit on it. That way, you can actually direct the veterinarian as to what you actually use to collect. There’s some really good text out there. I know like Dr. Melinda Merck, her textbook, I know I have read that and I know there are some sections there on that. You want to be well knowledge because especially in smaller communities you’re not going to have a forensic veterinarian. They’re not going to know what they have to do. Keep one in there. That’s a great idea. You can probably get them from your local law enforcement agency. Have that relationship so you can probably get it at no cost.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of “Advanced Components of Animal Cruelty Investigations.”