Magazine article Security Management

Solve the Cross Word Puzzle

Magazine article Security Management

Solve the Cross Word Puzzle

Article excerpt

CORPORATIONS HAVE A duty to protect employees from sexual harassment, racial attacks, and threats of violence. Some incidents will occur regardless of company policies or the level of security. Among the most difficult to combat are those involving anonymous notes.

Security's objective is to find the letter writer before threats are carried out. In many cases, the covert criminal has left a thick trail hidden in the papers, inks, typewriters, printers, and copiers used. Investigators need only know how to preserve the evidence and how to read the clues.

Receiving an anonymous note can be a frightening experience for an employee. Security must act quickly, not only because of potential legal and financial ramifications, but also to end the terror of the victims. The first step is to narrow the broad field of potential perpetrators.

Selecting suspects. Investigators would face an impossible task if all company employees were suspects, but the security team can usually develop a short list. If several people are receiving anonymous notes, the recipients should be included in the primary list of suspects. It is a common practice for the perpetrators of these acts to send themselves notes to direct the investigation elsewhere. The practice is so common that the recipients should almost always be added to the investigator's list of suspects.

If the notes have individual messages and are not just copies of the same note, the content may help identify the author. For example, one person may have received a note that is particularly savage in its attack. The recipient of that letter becomes a prime suspect.

Victims are prime suspects because they have been known to arrange incidents with the hope of laying blame on a hated co-worker. The person may also be sending himself or herself anonymous notes as a way of getting attention. Similarly, if one recipient's note is gentler toward him or her or provides excuses for the actions of someone referenced in the note, this person should also be placed at the top of the suspect list.

If the notes focus on a particular individual, attention should be given to that individual, known enemies of the person being attacked, and close friends of the known enemies. Secondarily, others mentioned in the notes should be considered priority suspects just below the victims, particularly those portrayed as victims or those given excuses for their actions.

When only one person receives the anonymous notes, the recipient should be at or near the top of the suspect list along with known enemies and friends of the known enemies. The next level of suspects should include those whose names are mentioned in the note. Close friends on each side of a feud become priority suspects because of their friendship with one of the principals and their desire to do what they consider to be helpful.

To further limit the number of suspects, investigators should determine who has access to the site where the note was found and who has access to or knowledge of the equipment or materials used to create the note. Also, if the note discusses events not widely known, investigators should find out who could know of those events.

The investigation. Anonymous note cases often hinge on the proper treatment of valuable forensic evidence. The likelihood of retrieving this evidence, however, often turns on how quickly action is taken. Some evidence will have little value if too much time elapses between the document's creation and the investigation.

Physical evidence may consist of items such as the paper or writing stock used for the notes; the writing instrument, such as a pen, pencil, typewriter, or computer; the container or envelope; and the method of delivery.

Evidence preservation. The document should immediately be placed in a protective sheath with a minimum of handling. This not only preserves the possibility of future fingerprint comparisons, but also demonstrates, should the case go as far as a hearing, that due care to preserve the evidence was taken. …

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