Law enforcers are in a unique and certainly not enviable position in regard to occult crime. They must deal with an issue that is highly emotional and spiritual in nature -yet, they cannot afford to let their emotions or spiritual convictions enter into the lawful response required by their profession.
Clearly, as the preceding two chapters indicate, law enforcers must focus their attention on the criminal act, not on the perpetrators belief system. In short, he or she must listen to complainants, not believe them.
Indeed, as FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth Lanning has remarked "As difficult as it might be, police officers must separate the religious and law enforcement perspectives when they are lecturing or investigating in their official capacities as law enforcement officers...The religious beliefs of officers should provide spiritual strength and support for them, but not affect the objectivity and professionalism of the investigation." (Lanning, 1989:19-20.) Thus, they should "stick to the Constitutional basics" by "investigating irregular behavior based on a well-founded and legally-defined reasonable suspicion and arresting based on probable cause." (Hicks, June 1989:26.)
Any crime requires an objective assessment, and occult crime is no exception. Nonetheless, few contemporary issues have so confounded and divided the law enforcement community than that of occult crime. This chapter seeks to alleviate the confusion and mitigate the divisive factors. As such, it identifies the barriers to dealing with occult crime;
examines the roles law enforcers must assume in regard to occult crime; and provides the law enforcement community with resources for further information and assistance.
Barriers to Law Enforcement Involvement in Occult Crime.
Before any law enforcement officer comes face-to-face with allegations or actual instances of occult-related crime, he or she should be aware of the wide array of barriers discussed below which can and often will confuse and even overwhelm law enforcement functions.
First, criminal justice practitioners and therapists familiar with occult groups sharply disagree about many issues surrounding occult crime. Among the most heatedly debated points, as Chapters One and Two illustrate, are the actual extent of occult crime, the motives of occultists involved in criminal activity, and the veracity of self-professed "survivors". Not surprisingly, such disagreement will affect any law enforcement approach to an alleged occult-related criminal incident.
Second, many law enforcement agencies are unclear about how to actually handle an alleged occult crime case. Likely questions faced by any department include: Should law enforcers handle the crime differently than any other crime? What resources should be devoted to training officers and providing specialized knowledge about occult crime? And perhaps most importantly, what are the appropriate roles for law enforcers to play in a crime that may have religious connotations? Indeed, because most occult activities are protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion, many law enforcement agencies are reluctant to pursue the occult factor during any phase of an investigation.
Third, traditional intelligence operations do not work very well with occultists. Because occult groups have been historically persecuted for their beliefs, most ceremonies and rituals are highly secretive and, therefore, difficult to penetrate. However, the biggest barrier to traditional intelligence is that most occultists require all group members to participate in their rituals. In most cases, law enforcers would be morally and legally prohibited from such participation.
Fourth, many people both within and without law enforcement circles are either skeptical about the existence of occult activities or absolutely deny the existence of any criminal links. While a certain amount of skepticism may actually be beneficial to an investigation, such skepticism can also prohibit an investigation from getting "off the ground."
Fifth, the law enforcer's own personal and spiritual belief system may inhibit an objective handling of the case. Investigating crimes that are both morally and spiritually repugnant - such as grave robberies, church desecration, and ritualistic abuse - may prevent the law enforcer from objectively handling evidence and may make him or her overly fearful of involvement in this type of case.
Sixth, law enforcers who receive specialized training in occult crime may become what some people have called "over-sensitized" to this type of criminal activity.
The possibility increases that he or she will expect an occult encounter, and when confronted with unexpected or inexplicable information, may interpret it along the new lines of expectations.
Seventh, law enforcement investigators may spend a great deal of time linking the commission of a crime to an occult belief system, only to find the prosecutor and/or an expert witness recommending the link be ignored or discredited in a jury trial. In many cases where occult links have been alleged, prosecutors are not presenting such ties to the juries, arguing such evidence is circumstantial at best and that juries simply will not accept the existence of such evil-minded crimes.