North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

April 25, 2013

An NJN Editorial: When police get help from the public, good things happen

AN NJN EDITORIAL — You’ve heard it from law enforcement agencies for years, through the Crimestoppers program or more direct means: “Folks, we need your help in catching someone.” Or, “If you see something, say something.”

Perhaps never before was the principle of the public helping the law better displayed than last weekend in Boston.

It started when the FBI and Boston Police first put out photos of the suspects in the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The faces of the two brothers were instantly flashed across the globe, which also serves to illustrate a by-product of our digital age: There are cameras everywhere, especially at big events like the country’s most prestigious road race.

Thanks to that effort, it did not take long before lawmen had brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tracked down, after one of the most intensive manhunts in recent times. The older brother was killed, while the younger recovers from wounds in a Boston hospital; he has since been charged with civilian crimes and not under terrorist charges that would result in a military tribunal.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might not have been found, at least not for quite some time, if a guy in suburban Watertown had not gone outside for a smoke break, despite the fact that the entire Boston area was under lockdown.

David Hennenberry saw that the tarp on the boat in his backyard was askew. He went to check it out, and instead found the younger Tsarnaev lying in a pool of blood.

Hennenberry called police, who then confirmed the body through thermal imaging via an aircraft. They then turned his boat into a bullet-riddled mess.

But if Hennenberry hadn’t checked things out, there’s a good chance that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might have died without investigators having a chance to interrogate him. Death, if merited, will come through the justice system.

So next time your police, sheriff or federal law enforcement ask for your help on a case, remember that boat in Watertown.

Then, drop the good guys a line.

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