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Good Police Work or Just Dumb Luck - It's the latter

by Judi Villa Saturday, Jul. 15, 2006 at 1:34 PM

If the cops catch the serial killer, shooter, rapist it will probably be a result of luck, not hard work or good police work. That's according to them as Phoenix police Detective Mark Potts said "90 percent of good police work is luck. It's being in the right place at the right time". Plus this serial killer, rapist, shooter is a real jobs program for cops. Det Potts is probably making close to 0K with overtime.

If the cops catch the serial killer, shooter, rapist it will probably be a result of luck, not hard work or good police work. That's according to them as Phoenix police Detective Mark Potts said "90 percent of good police work is luck. It's being in the right place at the right time"

Also it looks like these shooting sprees are a jobs programs for cops - Potts, w has been working 18-hour shifts - with all that over time I bet Detective Mark Potts is making at lease 0K perhaps even 0K

Police flooded with serial-killer tips

Judi Villa

The Arizona Republic

Jul. 14, 2006 12:00 AM

This could be the call.

Phoenix police Detective Mark Potts picks up on the first ring: "This is Silent Witness," he says, "Can I help you?"

As two serial killers continue to elude police and strike fear in the community, tips have been pouring in from people wanting to offer whatever they can to end the attacks. In a two-day period this week, more than 2,000 anonymous tips were called in to police, hundreds more than usually come in during an entire month.

There are so many calls that tipsters sometimes get a busy signal or find themselves momentarily put on hold. The six phone lines ring non-stop.

"There's an old saying in police work that 90 percent of good police work is luck. It's being in the right place at the right time," said Potts, who has been working 18-hour shifts answering phones. "This could be the tip that puts us in the right place. . . . This is where it's going to happen. It's either going to be that or luck."

All week, police have been driving home the importance of residents calling in to report any person or activity that looks suspicious. At the same time, about 120 officers are dedicated to finding the serial killers.

"There is an all-out effort here. There really is," said Phoenix police Officer Randy Gilbertson, who was patrolling an east Phoenix neighborhood earlier this week where one of the killers has repeatedly struck.

"He needs to be stopped."

Police on Thursday reported no new developments in the investigations. The "Baseline Killer" has been raping, robbing and killing since last August. Six people are dead. The "Serial Shooter" is believed to be responsible for 34 random shootings since May 2005. Five people are dead, and 16 were wounded.

Both killers choose their victims randomly and are thought to lurk in the area before they attack. But police say a composite sketch of the Baseline Killer likely is a disguise, and the Serial Shooter hasn't been seen.

"Because of the circumstances right now, it's going to take a tip," said Sgt. Paul Penzone, who oversees the Silent Witness program. "It may take some luck, and it's going to take hard work by investigators to solve these crimes.

"It's critical that everyone take an attitude that they won't tolerate it, and they're going to partner with the Police Department to put it to an end. This is our job, but it's everybody's responsibility to make a difference."

Silent Witness doesn't talk about its successes, but it is widely known that tips helped lead police to two suspects accused of killing Phoenix police Officer David Uribe in May 2005 and to three teenagers accused of gunning down Guillermo Rodriguez and Rafael Encinas, both 17, at a sandwich shop in November.

"I believe that will be the case in this situation, as well," Penzone said.

Just about every call coming in to Silent Witness this week has been about the serial killers. Sometimes, callers offer a name and why they think that person is guilty. Sometimes, they call to say they saw a suspicious person in the bushes or at a bus stop or a suspicious vehicle. Sometimes, psychics call with theories. "It's been the whole spectrum," Penzone said.

Callers remain anonymous. All tips are prioritized, partly based on the details provided and the urgency of the information. For example, a tip with a specific name or address of a potential suspect or a tip providing weapons information that isn't widely known would take priority over a more-vague tip about seeing an unidentified person in a grocery-store parking lot last week. All tips, though, are passed along to detectives.

"Sometimes, the smallest tip makes the difference," Penzone said.

At the same time, officers on the street also are looking for anything suspicious. On a recent night, Gilbertson kept his eyes open for people and cars that looked out of place. He paid attention to women walking alone. He peered into the dark corners and crevices near buildings and alleys.

"I'm sure he's had opportunities where he just hit. But some of the things he's set up, and he's been lying in wait," Gilbertson said. "That's what I hope to catch. There's just all sorts of places he could be sitting back in."

Gilbertson noticed five men waiting at a bus stop. Several more gathered outside a convenience store. This area, near 32nd Street and Thomas Road, is heavily populated, and people there tend to be transient.

"It's very easy for him to just fit in," Gilbertson said. "You never know where he could be."

He pulled up alongside a man walking two dogs in an alley.

"How are you doing?" Gilbertson asked. "Do you live around here?"

He made sure the man had seen the composite of the Baseline Killer. Even Gilbertson figures it could ultimately be a tip from the community that leads police to the killers.

"We're doing a lot of moving around," Gilbertson said.

"We've got a very vague description. It's almost going to come down to somebody in a neighborhood saying, 'You know, that guy looks like the composite.' . . . We need somebody to point out this guy's acting weird in that cranny over there.

"Our hope is to just get a call and get him before he does it again."

Detective Icela Brown said she is confident somebody out there has a critical piece of information that could ultimately identify the killers. That's why, she said, "all calls are very important, extremely important."

"He's still out there," Brown said. "You don't know where this person could be."

The phone on her desk rings again.

"Silent Witness," Brown says. "Can I help you?"

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