By A. Finn Moss | Profiles in Danger
The evidence room at Bass Lake Police Authority headquarters is an unlocked shed behind the main office, which is itself is a slightly larger unlocked shed in the parking lot behind Town Hall.
Lit by a bare 25-watt incandescent bulb covered in dust and bat guano, the shed where BLAP officers store vital items from crime scenes is more like a different type of room.
Shelves are stacked with empty pizza boxes, unpaired shoes, fishing tackle and spare bicycle parts. It’s more like a shed that is not an evidence room but more like a shed.
And that has some people worried.
“I would not want any of the crimes I’m not guilty of to be solved on the basis of what is in that shed,” said Bass Lake mayor Forrest Bunkard. “It’s almost as if Larry, Curley and Moe Howard plus Barney Fife were in charge of ‘NCIS: Instant Justice.’ It’s not good.”
Bunkard’s concerns have led him to propose his first major ordinance to the town council. The new rule would have BLAP adopt “evidence-based” techniques to solve crimes.
While most council members seem okay with that, the head of the BLAP detective division isn’t so sure.
“We have been using a method primarily focused around word of mouth and confession,” said BLAP chief Gwen “Tug” McNabb. “That usually got results in the past. These new Bunkard regulations will slow our investigations of crimes as yet unsolved to near zero.”
While McNabb’s style of policing may work with noise complaints and parking infractions, other crime investigations, such as the repeated robberies at Layte-Nite Gas ‘n’ Beer Party Shop, have gone nowhere.
“We asked around about those,” McNabb said, “but nobody’s talking. We suspect drug users or someone needing cash or coffee. And don’t print that. We don’t want them to know we’re looking for them.”
Reports looking at crime statistics – the who what where when how why and why not? – have not been filed for recent decades, so to be fair to chief McNabb it is impossible to know for sure the success rate of BLAP methods.
But mayor Bunkard intends to press his agenda forward in coming months.
“I’ve got my staff getting our ducks in their proverbial row,” Bunkard said, “though I usually see ducks in columns or lines. Not sure where that whole row thing comes from.”