Criminal Investigative Failures  book cover
1st Edition

Criminal Investigative Failures

ISBN 9781420047516
Published December 15, 2008 by Routledge
400 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Avoid Major Investigative Traps

What causes competent and dedicated investigators to make avoidable mistakes, jeopardizing the successful resolution of their cases? Authored by a 21-year police veteran and university research professor, Criminal Investigative Failures comprehensively defines and discusses the causes and problems most common to failed investigations. More importantly, it outlines realistic strategies for avoiding investigative pitfalls.

Illuminated with case studies, this practical resource examines three main reasons for investigative failure:

  • Cognitive biases, such as tunnel vision, that lead to mistakes in reasoning
  • Organizational traps, such as groupthink, that investigators fall prey to within their agencies
  • Probability errors, such as the prosecutor’s fallacy, in forensic science and criminal profiling

The Dangers of Assumptions and Organizational Ego

Authoritative contributors from a variety of disciplines elaborate on the aforementioned core points with commentary and case studies of well-known crimes. Written in a quick-to-grasp style, this useful text provides practical advice for avoiding investigative failures. It is an invaluable reference for investigators looking to prevent future failures of justice and find the truth.

Table of Contents


Introduction, D. KIM ROSSMO

Cognitive Biases: Perception, Intuition, and Tunnel Vision, D. KIM ROSSMO

Organizational Traps: Groupthink, Rumor, and Ego, D. KIM ROSSMO

Errors in Probability: Chance and Randomness in Forensics and Profiling, D. KIM ROSSMO


Cognitive Biases in Human Perception, Judgment, and Decision Making: Bridging Theory and the Real World, ITIEL E. DROR AND PETER A. F. FRASER-MACKENZIE

Bounded Rationality and Criminal Investigations: Has Tunnel Vision Been Wrongfully Convicted? BRENT SNOOK AND RICHARD M. CULLEN

On the Horns of a Narrative: Judgment, Heuristics, and Biases in Criminal Investigation, DAVID STUBBINS AND NELSON STUBBINS


Who Killed Stephanie Crowe? GREGG O. MCCRARY

Milgaard v. The Queen: Understanding a Wrongful Conviction for Sexual Homicide, NEIL BOYD AND D. KIM ROSSMO

A False Confession to Murder in Washington, D.C., JAMES TRAINUM AND DIANA M. HAVLIN

What Happened to Theresa Allore? JOHN ALLORE AND PATRICIA PEARSON

Wrongful Innocence Claims: Roger Coleman and Benjamin LaGuer, D. KIM ROSSMO


How Police Departments Can Reduce the Risk of Wrongful Convictions, DOUG A. LEPARD AND ELIZABETH CAMPBELL

Reducing Investigative Failures through Effective Major Case Leadership, JOHN C. HOUSE, JOSEPH EASTWOOD, AND BRENT SNOOK

Necropsies and the Cold Case, JASON ROACH AND KEN PEASE

Recommendations and Conclusion, D. KIM ROSSMO


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This book is absolutely required reading for any professional in the law enforcement, emergency services, forensic medicine, or forensic psychology field who has to make complex decisions.
—Daniel Clark, Editor of International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2009

This topic is vitally important for not only understanding the causes and prevention of failures, but for understanding and measuring success.
—John Eck, University of Cincinnati, Department of Criminal Justice

The concepts and strategies outlined in this book are invaluable for helping to accomplish an investigator’s primary objective: ‘find the truth.’ For those of us who care deeply about investigative excellence and justice, particularly police investigators, this book is a ‘must read.’
—Doug A. LePard, Deputy Chief Commanding Investigation Division, Vancouver Police Department, Canada, From the Preface