RURAL Arson Control
The Florida State Fire Marshal’s office has an attorney on staff whose function is to assist with preparation of arson cases and, if necessary, to prosecute them. Florida enacted a new, simplified arson law in 1979; this has increased prosecu- tors’ willingness to take on arson cases.
Klamath County, Oregon’s “Arson Strike Force” uses a team of four experi- enced cause and origin investigators at each suspected arson. This permits quick response and improves the (quality/reliability) of evidence. This has increases the confidence of prosecutors in the quality of cases they get.
The Northeastern Oklahoma arson strike force counts as a member an attorney experienced in arson prosecution. His participation improves the quality of case reports and other supporting documentation, thereby increasing the likelihood of effective prosecution.
In New Jersey the states’ attorney general sought out cases that local prosecutors regarded as marginal. By successfully prosecuting the majority of these cases, the attorney general encouraged more aggressive local prosecution of subse- quent arson cases.
One state has offered a three hour training course to local prosecutors. States attorney generals could offer special arson seminars to local prosecutors in conjunction with other professional meetings and training opportunities. As a minimum, the state’s central prosecution office should seek to make arson prosecution expertise available to local prosecutors.
Prosecuting offices can assist arson investigators greatly if they designate one or more prosecutors to handle all arson cases and respond on scene upon request.
Prosecutors should advise the court that volunteers will be called as witnesses and, if at all possible, there should be an avoidance of delay for those individuals that are uncompensated.
Counselling of juvenile fire setters in rural areas.
Rural areas face particular problems in providing counselling to juvenile fire setters. In a many rural counties, demand for service is not likely to warrant setting up separate counselling programs. Regional counselling programs offer a possible altemative. Both county and regional counselling programs will have to rely on fire officials and arson investigators to identify those candidates most in need of assistance and those families most likely to benefit from counselling programs. Even the smallest volunteer department plays a front line role in identifying firesetters and referring them to appropriate authorities.