Columbus Police Investigations

Police Investigations in Columbus, Ohio

If you’re being investigated by the police in Columbus, Ohio, there are three things you need to know:

(1)  Don’t talk to the police!
(2)  Don’t take a police polygraph (lie detector) test!
(3)  Do hire the best Columbus criminal defense lawyer you can find.

Keep reading to find out why.

How The Police Investigate Crimes in Columbus, Ohio

When a crime is reported, law enforcement is given the job of identifying who committed it so that right person is charged and prosecuted. In Columbus, the two major law enforcement agencies charged with investigating felony offenses are the Columbus Police Department (CPD) and the Franklin County, Ohio Sheriff’s Department. Each is similarly organized.

Both CPD and the Sheriff’s Department have a Patrol Division that responds to crimes in progress. As soon as the police receive a 911 or other call that a crime is in progress, they send patrol officers to the scene. Sometimes the patrol officers are able to apprehend a suspect right on the scene. The officers will then make an arrest, and escort the person to the police station or county jail for booking. Sometimes, however, no suspect is apprehended. In either case, before leaving the scene the patrol officers (often with help from a crime scene search unit and investigating detectives) will photograph the scene and collect evidence believed to be connected to the crime. Almost everyone at the scene will write a report. Those reports will include what each officer says they saw or heard; the names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential witnesses; written or summaries of witness statements; and an inventory of all items taken. All these are items that are discoverable by the attorney for the accused pursuant to Rule 16 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Also, both agencies have an Investigative Division, each containing Detective Bureaus, which are assigned to investigate serious crimes as well as unsolved crimes. The Detective Bureaus have sections assigned to investigate Crimes against Persons (Homicides, Assaults, and Robberies); Property Crimes (Burglaries, Auto Thefts, and Economic Crimes); Special Victim Crimes (Sexual Assaults and Domestic Crimes);and a Narcotics Bureau (this usually includes both drugs and vice). A major focus of the Detective Bureau is to investigate both serious and unsolved crimes. This occurs when crimes were not observed in progress, when a suspect was able to avoid apprehension, or when an investigation is complicated. In this case, the law enforcement agency will assign the crime to one or more detectives to interview witnesses and analyze evidence in an attempt to identify a suspect.

Don’t Talk To The Police!

If any law enforcement agent attempts to interview you in connection with the investigation of a crime, it is best not to say anything without first consulting with an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney. Reasons why you should not talk to the police are set forth in the following blog posts entitled:

1. “What if the Columbus Police Want to Question Me?  Here’s why the Answer Should be ‘No.’”
2. “When do you Need to Answer Questions Posed by the Police?”
3. “Do you have to identify yourself to the Police?”

If you would like to hear from a law professor (and former criminal defense attorney) about why nothing good ever comes from talking to the police, please take a look at a YouTube video of one of his lectures entitled:   “Don’t Talk to Police”.  I can almost guarantee you that no good can ever come from talking to a police officer involved in a felony criminal investigation – at least not without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Don’t Take a Police Polygraph (lie detector) Test!

If the Columbus police ask you to take a lie detector (polygraph) test, it’s only because they want to interrogate you. Don’t do it. At least don’t do it without first consulting an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney.

The job of the police is to gather evidence. If they ask you to take a lie detector test it is because they want to gather evidence to use against you, not for you. They want the opportunity to interrogate you. The Reid School of Police Interrogation teaches that one of the best methods to interrogate a suspect is through a polygraph examination. While the polygraph test itself is designed to record physiological responses (breathing rate, pulse, blood pressure, and perspiration) to questions and answers, the interrogation does not stop or begin when the machine is connected to you. The questions the police examiner asks you before and after the test are all designed to gather evidence to use against you – to make it easier for them to arrest, prosecute, and convict you. In Ohio, statements made by a suspect to the polygraph examiner are admissible at trial, even though the test results may not be.  See State v. Jeffries, 119 Ohio St. 3d, 2008-Ohio-3865. You can rest assured that statements you make before, during, and after the lie detector test can and will be used against you.

In addition to the fact that police polygraphs are usually a pretext for an interrogation, often without regard for proper test procedures, polygraph test results can be notoriously unreliable. It is all too common for innocent persons wrongly accused to fail lie detector tests despite their innocence, resulting in their arrest and prosecution on a false criminal charge.

There are times that you may want to take a lie detector test to convince the police you are innocent. In such a case, however, your criminal defense attorney should select a private polygraph operator that he or she trusts to administer the test without the police knowing about it. Then, your lawyer can thoroughly review the test results, and if they are favorable, turn them over to the police.