Intersection of Genealogy and Law Enforcement

Chloe Layne is currently a Graduate Assistant and student in the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Department. She graduated the undergraduate portion of the integrated program with a major in law enforcement and justice administration and minors in Spanish and psychology.  Chloe is also an active researcher working with multiple faculty to produce peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) first made its introduction into the American court system in 1986. Since then, not only has DNA aided in the conviction of a multitude of offenders, but it has also led to the exonerations of those who are innocent but were found guilty. DNA has proven other forensic sciences that were largely accepted in the courtroom as proof of identification, to be faulty. More recently, DNA has been used for another purpose within the criminal justice field. In recent cases, DNA has been used through genealogy websites to identify suspects of unsolved cases where DNA was left behind.

Genealogy websites are becoming widely popular and already have over 2.5 million users. The purpose of the websites is to analyze the DNA sent in by their users and return to them a list of origins that their family may come from and give them the names of people they are either closely or distantly related to who have also submitted their DNA to the service. Under the terms and conditions of these sites, it explains that by sending in DNA, users are agreeing to the possibility that law enforcement, when acting under the proper conditions such as a search warrant, may be allowed access to the users’ profiles and information within, including their DNA. This section of the terms is not a hypothetical situation, as law enforcement has already taken advantage of the opportunity to utilize these sites for their own agenda.

The most infamous instance of law enforcement utilizing this strategy is when they were able to apprehend a suspect known as the Golden State Killer. Suspected of over a dozen murders and 50 rapes, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested over three decades since the last known associated killing. Law enforcement used a DNA sample from one of the crime scenes and used a genealogy site to match it with a distant relative who had also used the site. Law enforcement then charted the family tree and identified a suspect in the right age range and area. They then followed this suspect (DeAngelo) until he discarded DNA samples, and they matched them with the DNA at the crime scene. DeAngelo was arrested in April of 2018. These same methods have been used to identify suspects in at least four other murder cases and one rape case thus far.

Rise of the Warrior Cop – a book review

Kelsey Maldonado is a current Graduate Assistant and graduate student with the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Department. Kelsey spent the first four years of schooling as an undergraduate student here at Western Illinois University. She majored in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration, and minored in Spanish and Forensic Science. Currently, she is working on a thesis on the topic of detecting deception. With the completion of this work she will graduate from the university in the summer of 2019. Kelsey is looking toward the future considering both municipal Law Enforcement positions as well as Federal positions.

Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley Balko examines the militarization of police forces. At the start of the book the author illustrates our beginnings. In colonial times the faction that did the policing of the people were the British soldiers. Balko expresses the impact the military force had on the public and for its part it contributed to the Revolutionary War. Once America standing on its own there was a need for policing among the new-found Americans and the standing military came to do the job until the adoption of what is known today as modern policing which can from Sir Robert Peele and his London police. The entire book works in chronological order to provide a full history of policing from the British military, to the 60’s and 70’s which saw the war of drugs. The author states that the war on drugs never truly ended and any money that was left over from other initiatives throughout the years went back to that cause. Balko talks at length about 9/11 and post 9/11 efforts to put anti-terror initiatives into place and the effect that had on the militarization of policing. Couple that with President Obama taking the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the country has an abundance of military grade weapons that are in storage and end up being donated to police departments. At the finale of the book Balko gave six possible solutions for the militarization. First was to scale back the war on drugs, halt the use of SWAT teams where they are not effective, transparency (i.e. body cameras), increased community policing, change police culture to discourage violent behavior, and make police accountable. Overall, the work was informative, but there was not new insight into solutions as many of the ones suggested are already in place.

Parental Monitoring

Law enforcement officers are frequently called to intervene in situations that involve juveniles, and many times it’s discovered that the circumstances which brought police into contact with a juvenile may have grown out of parent-child relationships. 

It’s important for law enforcement workers to know how family dynamics can impact juvenile behavior; such as a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol, is too busy pursuing personal or work goals, or a parent who hasn’t developed proper parenting skills.  Hopefully, through knowing the family dynamics, a law enforcement officer can effectively intervene and steer the family to productive resources for the benefit of the child and family.

Dallas Trone is a WIU LEJA student currently enrolled in Research Methods.  Through the course of developing her research project, she discovered important parenting traits and monitoring skills that show a relationship between attachment and delinquency.  Dallas has taken this information and put it into an easy to read table for law enforcement officers, hoping it will help officers understand how parenting can impact juvenile behavior.

Authoritarian Expresses little warmth, high controlling and high demanding behaviors with low responsiveness.
Authoritative Warm, supportive, firm,  high demanding behaviors with low responsiveness.
Permissive Very warm, understanding, supportive, low demanding behaviors with high responsiveness
Neglectful Deficient of warmth, supervision, and control



It is not uncommon for police to respond to calls for service regarding out-of-control juveniles.  Good officers take the time to learn about behavior disorders so they can help a family begin appropriate interventions for the health of the juvenile and the family. 

MRAI is a law enforcement term used in Illinois to describe a juvenile who is not in the process of committing a criminal offense, but needs emotional health services instead.

This post was written  by Alyssa Dawson.  Alyssa is an LEJA student at Western Illinois University, and this post is part of a presentation she made in her Juvenile Justice class.


            Where I grew up as a child, there were a handful of children that had behavioral issues. Those children were typically kicked out of that school and sent to an alternative school in another town. They would often act out and disrupt class multiple times a day, and it was usually a day-to-day occurrence. Some of those students even displayed symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a diagnosis given to children who are persistently negative, hostile, disobedient, and defiant towards authority, and which interferes with the child’s everyday functioning. There are three categories that the symptoms fall into. Those categories are; angry and irritable, argumentative and defiant behavior, and vindictiveness. There is no specific cause for ODD, but there is a combination of factors that can play a role in the development of the disorder. They include biological, psychological, and social factors. In order to be diagnosed, the child must exhibit four of the nine symptoms for at least six months or longer. ODD can vary in severity: mild, moderate, and severe. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is what most doctors use to diagnose ODD in children. Only 3.3% of the population has been diagnosed with ODD. Of those diagnosed with ODD, between 14% and 40% also have ADHD, up to 14% have anxiety, and up to 9% have depression as a co-existing condition. Among younger children, ODD is more common in boys, but once children reach school-age, it occurs equally in boys and girls. There is no way to prevent ODD, but research shows that early-intervention and school-based programs along with therapy can help improve behavior and prevent them from getting worse. There are certain types of treatment and programs that can help the child and family cope with the ODD diagnosis.

Conduct disorder (CD) is a psychiatric condition in children that exhibit aggression, lying, stealing, and other behavior that is socially unacceptable. The DSM-5 classifies two major subtypes of CD; childhood-onset and adolescent-onset. For the childhood-onset, at least one of the criteria of antisocial behavior must be exhibited by a child younger than 10 years old. For adolescent-onset, there are no characteristics presented before the age of 10. Brain damage, traumatic events, genes, and child abuse are some causes of CD. Experts say that there are six factors that play a role in developing conduct disorder. CD is in 4.58% of boys and 4.5% of girls. In a study conducted in four schools in Kanke, with 240 students in the survey, childhood-onset was found in 73% and adolescent-onset was found in 23% of the students that had conduct disorder. Of the students with CD, 36% had mild conduct disorder, 64% had moderate, and 0% had severe. CD is more common in boys than it is in girls and is more common in cities than in rural areas. 40% of these children will have antisocial personality disorder as an adult. Some risk factors are: children that come from homes that are disadvantaged, dysfunctional, or disorganized. Some children who have CD also have coexisting conditions. The only way to diagnose a child with CD is to have them diagnosed by a child psychiatrist or a qualified mental health expert. There are certain treatments that help with CD, such as, cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, peer group therapy, and medicine.

There is no way to prevent ODD or CD, but positive parenting strategies can reduce the risk. While having a child diagnosed with ODD or CD can be difficult to cope with, there are a few ways to deal with it. You must keep all your appointments, take part in family therapy, develop a treatment plan, and reach out for support from others.


Police and Juvenile Interventions: A Brief Review

This post was written by Elizabeth Conner.  Elizabeth is an LEJA student at WIU, and this post is a summary of a project she presented to her Juvenile Justice class.

There are many different situations police respond to for juveniles.  The big one that police respond to are abuse and neglect of a child in a home.  The police response to a call of neglect or abuse is to access the situation and take the child into temporary custody without a warrant if they feel the child is in danger.  This is to protect the child from any other harm that could come to them in the current situation they were in.

When interviewing the child there can be some challenges that arise that investigators should be aware of; many children do not want to tell the investigator anything out of fear of being taken away from their parents or guardian, they also are frightened by places they do not know with someone they are unfamiliar with so put them in a comfortable area and make it child friendly.

Police also work in school to deter students from a life of crime.  There were many initiatives taken to try to accomplish this, but the best one is the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program.  This has proven very effective to deter students from getting into a life of crime.  The SRO program was created in 1958 in Flint, Michigan. Student Resource officers do not enforce school rule, but instead they work with the students, parents and school staff to apply preventative techniques for youths who are causing problems. Techniques include counseling the children and their parents, referring them to social agencies, and referring them to drug or alcohol agencies, however they still must remain in contact with the school daily.

Finally, a big problem in our society today is school shootings.  There are four different types of threats that a child could make.  The first is a direct threat. An example of a direct threat is “I’m going to put a bomb in John’s locker”.  This is a big indicator that the child is going to do something traumatic.  Second is an indirect threat.  An example of this type is “If I wanted to, I could blow up this school”.  Third is a veiled threat.  An example of this threat is “We would all be better off if this school was destroyed”.  Fourth are conditional threats.  An example of this type is “If you do not go out with me I will blow up this school”.  Not all threats are equal, but if you hear a child say something along these lines it should be investigated further.  If a child does go through with the threatened violence the response of police is to go in immediately and try to force a surrender.  The protocol used to be to wait for SWAT and more information, but the protocol has changed.  This change was a positive change for the children who may have been killed while the first responder was waiting for either other officers or SWAT.

Sometimes Intervention is Necessary

Anecdotally, through my experiences, I have witnessed numerous times where a departmental  Chief or shift administrator will establish new expectations or measures of performance for employees.  Generally, performance expectations are set to assuage a new demand from external sources or to address a potentially dangerous emerging trend.  Even if the evidence for the new expectation is compelling and thoughtful, many times, employees view the new standard for performance as suspect at best.  Employees often discount it as temporary, arbitrary, or misguided.  Many times, employees will judge a performance expectation against their own internal emotional beliefs of how a thing should or should not operate; instead of a rational weighing of the evidence while being mindful that they are the employee, not the boss.  As an employee, they were hired to do the work of the organization.  The people who run the organization get to set performance standards and it is the responsibility of the employee to put those standards into motion.

For example, and probably the easiest example to use for this illustration could be traffic enforcement.  Most people would agree that a major function of the police is to perform a traffic safety function.  Traffic safety is a major issue for the Country.  Academics, insurance companies, and government agencies regularly note that traffic safety is essential and traffic crashes are a leading cause of death; especially for children.  As a matter of fact, traffic fatalities have led to many advances in automotive design; such as, air bags, antilock brakes, emergency braking, back up cameras, child car seats, and lane departure warnings to name a few.

So, with the importance of performing a traffic safety function as a police demand in mind, I have seen departments implement traffic enforcement criteria for it’s employees.  Now, this is not a quota, but an activity measure.  For example, police departments can set a number of expected traffic stops or contacts; such as 1 an hour, or an amount of time spent working near a high crash intersection to intervene in crash causing violations like running red lights.

Now, with this new traffic safety performance expectations, most people would anticipate the number of citations issued for traffic violations would increase and the police would be participating in making the roads safer for motorist.  However, many times the reverse is true.  The employee becomes annoyed and irritated that they’re being told what to do, or that traffic enforcement isn’t something they like or want to do, so they begin to devise ways to avoid doing work and avoid complying with the employer’s work rules.  The employee will express knowing they have to make the minimum number of stops, but they don’t have to write tickets, or they can sit at a high crash intersection and report not seeing a single violation.  These employees are either  now cheating, being dishonest, or not fulfilling their obligation to the department or the motoring public.  Perhaps worse, the employee is now complicate in creating unsafe roadways for our children and families.  This performance behavior needs addressed.

Employees need to know it is not always up to them to decide how and when they’ll perform.  Refusing to do reasonable work to improve safety or reduce criminal activity is unacceptable and punishable.  Refusal to work should begin the process of intervention, counseling, training, and termination if warranted.  Imagine this:  would you even hire a prospective employee in the first place if they told you in their interview that they would refuse to do work and only choose to do work that they felt was appropriate?  When hired, the employee chose to enter into a contract with the employer that he/she agreed to do the work of the employer in exchange for a paycheck.  The employer is paying the employee to accomplish the goals of the organization.  When an employee refuses to do this, then it’s time for the boss to be the boss and take appropriate intervention measures.

Potential Benefit of Clearly Setting Performance Expectations

One of the easiest actions for increasing worker performance and creating a pleasant work environment is clarity.  Workers, supervisors, and administrators want clarity.  Clarity of message.  Clarity of rules. Clarity of expectations.

People by nature are creatures of habit.  We perform best in environments that are predictable and stable.  Humans like the comfort of knowing what to expect and being able to predict likely outcomes.  Think about your own small habits and the comfort these bring.  Do you like to shop at the same grocery store?  Do you tend to park in the same space at work?  Do you sit in the same chair for shift briefings or meetings?  Do you keep items at work or home arranged in a consistent way?  More specifically, do you wear your work uniform and gear the same way, in the same place, all the time?  More likely than not, most of us can probably identify with habitual patterns of behavior, and would almost certainly admit that we have these habits because they make us feel comfortable and remove uncertainty.  We know habit can help us accomplish tasks; such as shopping and parking, quicker with less time spent on trying to navigate something new.  Police officers keep their gear in the same spot on their duty belt for decades, because we want to be comfortable knowing that we can expect our duty gear to be in a known and certain spot when we need it.  Matter of fact, we become so accustomed to knowing how our duty belt fits that we can feel when something is out of place and we’ll correct it.  We want things to be the same and predictable.

The same is true for rules and work expectations.  These areas are no different than any other behavior of habit; such as parking and seating arrangements.  Employees want to know what the expectations are.  They want them to be consistent.  They want to know the area that they are required to operate within and the consequences for moving outside of those boundaries.  Employees want well established practices of operation and that any deviation will be addressed equally across all spectrums of the organization.

Employees can adjust to expectations.  Most will easily come on board with firm set expectations, because ultimately it provides comfort found in habit and routine.  They’ll know that as long as they meet expectations, they will be safe and employment will be shielded from confusion and disorder.  We have to remember that our workers are people outside of the organization, and people thrive with clarity of message, rules, and expectations.  So be resolved, set the expectations; and above all, be clear.

Worker Performance and Trust

What does trust look like to you?

Is it a a cliché?

Does it sound old, tired, and worn out?

What images or meanings does the word trust invoke and hold for you?

In Lying (1993), Sissela Bok tells us “Whatever matters to human beings, trust is the atmosphere in which it thrives”; meaning trust must be the underpinning for whatever you’re looking to accomplish.

Bok’s notion on trust is especially true in the field of law enforcement.  The actions taken by law enforcement officials have a profound ability to impact the emotional, financial, and stability of families and individual lives for a long time.

Research tells us working in an organization built on trust and respect creates high performing, ethical, and fair-minded employees.  Therefore, it’s crucial for law enforcement employees to work in a climate built on trust since their authority can have a weighty influence over others.

Unfortunately, there are times law enforcement administrators and co-workers alike treat the word and concept of trust as something weak, squishy, abstract, meaningless, vague, or disadvantageous.  In these situations, trust is mistakenly equated with relinquishing authority or control.

However, quite the opposite is true.

In science, and with serious people, trust is essential.  It is the bedrock of relationships between individuals and groups.  It sets the foundation from which we build a robust and productive exchange in associations, even in the dealings between employer / employee and supervisor / subordinate.  Here is how:

In its true sense, the concept of trust can be described as confidence, belief, certainty, predictability, conviction, bravery, reliability, and passion.  These are hardly attributes of weakness that expose us to loss of authority.  Trust does not mean you are a push-over, that challenges are ignored, that actions are taken for the sake of being liked.  Nor does it mean hand-holding, or turning a blind-eye to improper resistance, opposition, or rule violations.  Being trusted means having earned the confidence of others in your relationships with them through fairness, whole heartedness, ethical and honest behaviors.

Trust is built through steady, firm, fair, impartial and predictable responses.

In the workplace, workers prefer to work for an administrator they trust, not because the administrator is a push-over, but because they know what to expect – even if the outcome is not their personally preferred result.  Workers want to feel confidence, certainty, and predictability that as things go well they will benefit from recognition, rewards, or just fair treatment.  They also want to know that if performance falls below expectations that consequences, accountability, responsibility, and corrective measures are clear and predictable.  In other words, workers want to trust their administrators.  They want to know, believe, and accept as true that the actions of their administrator (even in finding fault) will be predicable, reliable, fair, impartial and balanced.

So, let’s start to build robust and productive relationships in the workplace.  Set the expectations, let workers know they’re accountable, and apply consequences or rewards with consistency and fairness.  Relationships will be strengthened, performance will improve and people will trust you.   Also, the public we serve will appreciate the quality law enforcement officials you help shape.