When it comes to tracking down criminals, police often rely on the media to circulate photos of the suspects.
Trouble is, the Detroit Police Department disseminates indecipherable images of murderers, rapists, armed robbers and carjackers, despite easy access to crisper photos, the Motor City Muckraker has found.
Here’s what happens: When police obtain sharp surveillance images of suspects, the photos sent to the media are drastically reduced in quality, making it impossible to see anything but a tiny, heavily pixilated image.
Take this photo of a man accused of abducting a 27-year-old woman from her Midtown apartment and raping her twice on Sunday. Police sent out the photo five days after the rape, and it’s impossible to identify the suspect. The tiny image, like most that are disseminated to the media, was sent at the top of a PDF file. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of electronic files knows photos are better preserved as jpegs.
Other local departments with far fewer crimes send out crisp jpegs of suspects.
This morning, I called DPD’s public affairs department and asked for a higher quality photo of the rape suspect. The sergeant who answered the phone said he could not provide a decipherable photo and said the department “may” send out more information later in the day.
On Thursday evening, I called the officer who is investigating the case, and he never returned my call. No one in his precinct could help either.
In the meantime, the rapist remains on the loose, despite the existence of a crisp photo that could easily help identify him.
His photos, believe it or not, are crisp compared to most that are sent out of murderers, rapists and other violent crime suspects.
Check out these images sent to the media this year:
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.