An Examination of the Police Investigation: What Went Wrong and What Should Have Happened

The police involved in the Whitechapel murders cannot shoulder the entire weight of being unable to capture Jack the Ripper. Yet during this time it seemed as though there was a great deal of miscommunications between departments, withheld facts and many questionable “eyewitness” statements. Perhaps the detectives in every district’s department should have focused on communicating facts and evidence involved in the case with one another, rather than playing on separate teams who “passed the buck” from neighborhood to neighborhood, the evidence could have captured the killer.

I felt as though much of the police investigation was disorganized in manners similar to this, from miscommunications about bloodhounds to rumors about leather aprons and assumptions about writings written on a far off wall. Their greatest downfall however, has to be the policemen and their reliance on “eyewitness” accounts. It is a well-known fact that eyewitness testimonies are the least dependable evidence that investigators can collect in any case. People have a tendency to distort the truth, whether it is due to self-serving bias or just confusing facts with images they themselves concoct, because of this it would be a lot to assume their recollections of that evening are correct. For instance, the streets during this time were very dimly lit, and most eyewitnesses observed the Ripper from behind. How could they possibly see the ethnicity or eyelash color of the man standing with the victims? This was undoubtedly confirmed with the changes in facial features that the Ripper undergoes with each statement. It was a mistake to put weight in the witnesses’ testimonies, especially relatives who had not seen the victims for quite some time.

The blunders of the police did allow Jack the Ripper to escape imprisonment, and the fact that he was never captured does raise questions as to if he was smart or just lucky. I also find it hard to believe that Jack the Ripper could be classified into either an organized or disorganized serial killer. Perhaps he was just an ordinary man who had mental problems or desperate urges, not unusually smart, but a convenience killer who just so happened to avoid capture through no fault but the ineptitude of the police themselves. Although the police of Whitechapel were dealing with a new type of killer and new technology, it was their own inadequacies that eventually caused them to appear foolish and not capable of capturing a killer. Instead of unaware upperclassmen saving their own reputations and claiming to know the killer, but refusing to reveal his identity, the police should have focused on the facts, evidence and circumstances surrounding the Ripper murders. The police’s disorderly conduct most certainly classifies their investigation as disorganized.


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