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RURAL Arson Control

18

Arson Control Expert Concurrence

Agree 24

Disagree 0

Solution Options:

National Advisory Committee members suggested that investigators canvass local resources for heavy equipment needs. Sources cited included: county and town public works, emergency management agencies, utility companies, in- surors, the construction industry and others in the private sector.

Make arrangements in advance with departments requesting investigation that if manpower is needed to help dig out the scene, it will be provided.

Prosecution/Courts

Need Statement:

An effective arson control program requires effective prosecution of arson cases.

Discussion:

There was general agreement among the study’s four working groups that successful prosecution of arson cases is more difficult than for other major crimes. A variety of difficulties were cited to support this view including:

cases must be proven twice, first to show that a crime has been committed, second to show the accused was/ were responsible; public apathy toward arson, particularly arson for profit in economically depressed areas; firefighter inexperience with investigative needs may lead to inadequate preservation of evidence or breaks in the chain of custody; the rapid staff turnover that as a rule exists in the prosecuting attorney’s office makes it difficult to keep attorneys experienced in arson prosecu- tion; complexity of cases and arson law; prosecutor inexperience with arson law; low probability of conviction; and uncompensated court appearance cause hardship for volunteer firefight- ers and affect their willingness to appear as witnesses.

Compounding these difficulties are the fact that prosecutors in rural areas may only serve on a part time basis and/or have heavy caseloads. This may leave them fewer opportunities for special training in arson prosecution.

Arson Control Expert Concurrence

Agree 24

Disagree 0

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