A Maryland sheriff’s deputy was escorting a woman back to her home after a domestic incident early this morning when a man inside the house blasted him with a shotgun. The suspect was killed in the exchange of gunfire, but the deputy remains in critical condition this afternoon.
The incident, by all appearances, was part of the routine for a law-enforcement officer dealing with one of many domestic situations. But the unpredictable happened, as it does in isolated incidents that claim the lives of dozens of cops nationwide each year.
Now a new scoring system is being proposed to predict who the next cop killer could be, according to a paper in the journal Violence and Gender.
Matthew Logan, a forensic psychologist who is also a retired staff sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, has put forth a 10-point Threat to Criminal Justice Officials (TCJO) system.
The goal is to not only identify the suspects who would take a shot at a cop – but how best to prevent that shot from being taken in the first place.
Or as the title suggests: “if it is predictable, it is preventable.”
“In every jurisdiction, the police are aware of individuals who pose an elevated risk to police officers due to mental illness, psychopathy/personality disorders, or being career criminals,” Logan writes. “However, most agencies do not have a strategy to deal with these individuals and, therefore, lack specific tactical response plans.”
Ten categories are scored in the TCJO: arrests, early violence, noncompliance, psychopathology, substance abuse, weapon used during offenses, the type of violence, previous violence to a criminal-justice official, lifestyle type, and age. Each category is scored with up to a point, making the total out of 10.
Logan’s system is based on a matrix of risk factors. For instance, nearly a quarter of the killers of law enforcement were on probation or parole at the time of the murder, according to crime statistics. Nearly half of these killers were psychopathic, according to FBI studies. Three-quarters of the cop killers were engaged in drugs or alcohol activity at the time of the act, say other analyses.
Logan points to a particular incident in 2005, when four Mounties were ambushed and killed by a man with an assault rifle.
Logan told Forensic Magazine by phone that the methodology was inspired by the horrific murders of the four RCMP officers by James Roszko, who killed himself during the incident. Logan was one of the detectives at the scene in the aftermath, and plumbed the mind of the killer, through police records and what they found in his home.
“In 30 years of policing, I haven’t seen anything as shocking as what I saw there at the scene,” said Logan. “I spent six days on his property, and in his residence. I read everything he read, I read everything he wrote, I viewed everything he photographed. I recovered things in his walls that just absolutely shocked people.
“He was an 8.5 out of 10 on this particular scale,” Logan added.
Logan also said the patterns continue to show up in the mindset of the people who lash out at authority – meaning there is consistency to the model leading to the developing of the TCJO.
“The two things that show up a lot in the interviews I do with these guys is, the revenge orientation and the multiple-loss – or perceived multiple-loss – that takes place prior to the eruption,” said Logan.
He has applied the scoring system to several other recent cop killers as case histories. Maurice Clemmons, a felon who killed four cops in a coffee shop in Lakewood, Wash. in 2009, scored a 9.5 out of 10 based on his lengthy behavioral history. Hydra Lacy Jr., a man who killed two cops in St. Petersburg, Fla. in 2011, also amassed a 9.5-point rating based on his criminal history and tendency toward violence.
The tool has been in the works for years – and was published in Violence and Gender, because of its interdisciplinary readership, and the need to get the word out, said Mary Ellen O’Toole, the editor-in-chief of the journal.
“Dr. Logan’s triage tool, which establishes violent risk factors that can put a first responder at risk is something every law enforcement officer, probation and parole officer, case worker, and social worker must have in their back pocket then responding to a home or other location where the potential for violence is real,” said O’Toole, who herself is a retired senior FBI profiler, and also currently the director of the Forensic Sciences Program at George Mason University.
Logan writes that time is of the essence in getting the system out to law-enforcement agencies – to save lives.
“There is a new climate of hate and distrust that has blown in this past year,” Logan writes. “Those who have assaulted and murdered our criminal justice family members recently have the features as they did five years ago, but there are now more of them.
“We will not be able to pre-empt every strike but by being proactive, we will save lives,” he adds.