Yesterday a detective in the Midland Police Department held a press conference to address some assaults that have occurred locally in the last few months and to dispel the information in an email apparently in circulation which warned of a serial rapist in the community.
A rape which occurred last November and two attempted abductions which occurred in March and July were similar, although, "There is not a serial rapist running around that we know of," a police detective was reported to have said.
All of this is according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram which apparently had a reporter at the press conference. Your humble correspondent tried, but was not allowed to attend that press conference. More on that later.
The picture you see here was borrowed from the Midland Reporter-Telegram site, and it purports to be an artist's rendering of the perpetrators of those three crimes, said sketches were apparently on display at the press conference.
The November rapist was described as "'50 to 60-year-old Hispanic man with bushy white hair' and a 'soft,' stocky physique. He was about 5 feet 8 inches tall."
The March attempted abductor was described as "'stocky' and wearing a thin mustache" and drove a white van. The July attempted abductor was described as "5'8" to 5'10" with a mole or tattooed teardrop under his left eye. He had an 'old English lettering' tattoo of an unknown name on the left side of his neck," and drove an old Cadillac.
Let's all keep an eye out for anyone fitting those descriptions.
The Press Conference -- by invitation only
Tuesday's Midland Reporter-Telegram contained a short notice about a press conference that was to be held by the police. The article mentioned a detective by name, and I left a voice mail message for that detective to please call me back with the time and place of that press conference. A short time later I received a return call from a different police officer. I explained who I was and why I wanted to attend the press conference. But, it turns out that the press conference was by invitation only, and I wasn't on the invitation list and was told, firmly but politely, that I would not be allowed to attend.
The reason given was that the press conference was to be held inside the police station, and they didn't want just anyone (namely, me) wandering around in there.
To be fair, the person who compiled the invitation list was apparently the only person who could make any variance. And that person was out of the office. In any event, I didn't attend.
A proposal and a suggestion
Here's a modest proposal: Conduct two press conferences. One would be held inside the police building, and it would be for the elite media. Camera crews could set up their tripods, and tv reporters could do their one-on-one interviews.
The second press conference would be out on the front steps of the building, and it would be for the people, the rabble, us. That way everyone could get whatever information there is, and the mainstream media, having been first to hear it, can say they heard it first.
Okay, I'm being sarcastic. There really could be just one press conference in some place that doesn't have to be fortified. There are plenty of those places around town. Even the public lobby of the police station would probably suffice.
And here's a serious suggestion. That picture you see of the three perps -- the one borrowed from the Midland Reporter-Telegram. It could have been made a little bit more accessible for the rest of us. When the police get a sketch that should be made public they could scan it into a jpg file and disseminate it through email. They did it last September with the sketch of a wanted person. See it here.
What was wrong with that? Is the general public simply useless to the police? Or is there some reason why they don't want our help?
It seems that the only reason that the press conference was held, and the sketches shown, was to quell any concern raised by the alleged email rather than to enlist the public in helping solve the crimes. (Maybe it's supposed to be more comforting knowing there are two or three threatening people on the loose instead of just one.)
Well I, for one, believe that the public really is helpful in solving and preventing crimes. And someone in the MPD must believe that too, otherwise they wouldn't work so hard to keep Midland's status near the top of the list of towns of similar size in number of National Night Out neighborhood parties.
Speaking of which, check your neighborhood next week. National Night Out is August 2.