Wednesday, April 25, 2007

John Doe 96-2863 and Buddy, R.I.P.

By Kevin Guilfoile

I had a simple question about the hierarchy of the homicide section of the Las Vegas Police Department and before I bothered anyone on the phone, I decided to check the web first. It's the sensible and courteous thing to do, but I wasn't optimistic I'd find my answer. Government web sites, and particularly city web sites, are usually about as organized and easy to navigate as that house on your block owned by the elderly widow who hasn't thrown out a newspaper since 1943. Except the web sites don't usually contain nearly as much useful information. Most of them seem designed specifically to foil you from finding any information at all beyond two-year-old press releases and ten-year-old photos of the mayor. Go to the City of Chicago web site and see how long it takes you to find the name of the number two man in the CPD, the First Deputy Superintendent.

I hope you won't be upset if we don't wait.

Anyway imagine my shock when I found myself at the LVPD web site. You could spend hours there downloading information that is useful, useless, fascinating, and often gruesome. The concerned parent can find out how many narcotics arrests have been made in the last 60 days within a quarter mile of his child's school. The sentimental animal lover can solemnly peruse photos from the funeral of beloved K-9 unit hero "Buddy". The budding Veronica Mars can drum up unsolicited new work with a list of current open homicide cases complete with victim photos and and crime summaries. And the morbidly curious can study coroner photos of unidentified corpses. (Warning, some people might find a few of these pics disturbing, although I had a much tougher time looking at the German Shepherd's funeral.) The corpse I keep coming back to is the possibly doctored to cover decomposition John Doe 96-2863, who was discovered, dead from exposure, seven miles out into the desert.

For citizens of Clark County, this site is a valuable resource and the LVPD deserves great praise for making this information public and accessible. For the rest of us (or for me anyway) it's a source of endless fascination. And potential stories.

Has anyone else stumbled on a crime-related web site lately that was unexpectedly useful or engrossing?


Barbara D'Amato said...

Well, not exactly. But have you seen Stuff about spoofing caller i.d., change your voice, record caller i.d. Wow. All sorts of crime ficiton possibilities.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Some URLs I've found useful:


Gang Slang Dictionaries

Streeet drug slang lookup dictionary

Directory of prisons

Crime Lab Project

Illinois Criminal Code

Bill said...

The Hershey PD's web site gives a pretty good idea of its organization. I researched it for a novel set there. They even included stats (such as about 1 murder every couple of years).

No pictures of bodies, however.