Please welcome Detective Vickie Gooch of the Idaho State Police to Gem State Writers.
She recently spoke on criminal investigation to the Coeur du Bois chapter of Romance Writers of America. Detective Gooch gave us a powerful, new perspective on ‘scenes’. Although the same basic techniques might work when detectives sift through the facts surrounding a case, investigators can look for patterns attending types of crime. Whether crimes are against people or property, whether crime results in a material loss or, in the extreme, human life, a general mindset in approaching the scene helps solve cases. For a writer, it may help us develop a compelling story.
Hello Detective Gooch. Thank you for joining us. What inspired you to become an investigator?
I wanted to be a police officer since I was in second grade. While working patrol for Boise Police Department, I realized that I could not spend twenty years in a patrol car. Also, what motivated me to become an investigator was the psychology behind why criminals committed certain types of crimes. For example, fraud is motivated by greed, however, homicide is motivated by many different things, specific to the offender and his/her relationship with the victim. The psychology behind that motivation is truly what motivates me today.
You’ve indicated that certain types of crimes have increased in recent months. Identity theft seems to be rising and victims of this offense can attest to its damage. What kinds of people are most vulnerable to identify theft?
People who are not diligent in how they receive their personal information, such as receiving bank statements in the mail as opposed to on-line (which is more secure); sharing personal information over the phone or e-mail that includes your name, date of birth, and/or social security number; responding to these mass e-mailings about individuals attempting to give you “lottery winnings” from foreign countries, only if you…). Also, sharing your information with people you associate with who may have other ulterior motives about possessing that information.
While the ‘why’ of a crime might not be central in the actual investigation, motivation matters in writing. In your judgment, what motivates extreme violence?
The relationship between the offender and the victim, as well as the psychological make-up of the offender. ANGER is truly a driving force behind extreme violence.
As a law enforcement professional, you probably see all sorts of illogical plot points and devices used in the ‘cop’ shows and in novels about crime. What types of errors make you laugh or drive you crazy?
I am not one to spend what leisure time I do have on television, but I do know that most crimes are not solved in a one hour period, and that real life detectives do not possess all of the training and skills as are projected in the crime scene shows. We have many experts who work crime scenes, Some are detectives, crime scene technicians, and scientists (criminalists), all working together with their diverse educational backgrounds to solve the same problem. Also, the CSI effect has influenced juries in Idaho on what they expect to see at trials, and far too often, their expectations are not realistic for a majority of the criminal cases that are investigated in Idaho. Unfortunately, that CSI effect has led to false expectations on the part of the jury and acquittals for defendants who are in all likelihood guilty of the offense.
Thank you, Detective, for joining us at Gem State Writers.
Detective Vickie Gooch works with the Idaho State Police. She is an adjunct professor with the Department of Criminal Justice at Boise State University and holds a graduate degree in Public Administration from University of Idaho.