Critical Views of the Police

Though the police investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders has often been maligned and criticized, I feel that the police men deserve a bit more respect for their work. Bearing in mind the little tools and knowledge the police had to work with, I feel that less aspects of their investigation should be so condemned. With that said, there were plenty of situations that could have and should have been handled differently. The most obvious of these would be the maintenance of the deceased women’s bodies and the crime scenes. The washing of Polly Nichols’ body and the removal of her clothes never should have occurred. There needed to be a police officer with the victim’s body at all times to ensure that such tampering could not take place. Along the same vein, the blood at the crime scene should not have been washed away so carelessly (or rather been allowed to be washed off) before careful examination had been conducted. Without the customary use of fingerprinting and with no knowledge of DNA testing, of course, examinations may have yielded few clues, but the opportunity should have at least been available. The police also deserve flack for their inability to control the crowds that surrounded the crime scenes. Even if the locals knew how to get around blockades, if a team of officers had stayed at the murder sites at all times, no one could touch the bodies. In regards to touching the bodies, someone needed to get to Mary Kelly’s body sooner than the police did. The lapse in time between the discovery of the murder and the opening of the door to her room as the police waited for bloodhounds (that would most likely do nothing for the case) affords the police no pardon. So while there is little doubt in my mind that if the murders had taken place in this century, the police would be able to catch the murderer, the Victorian police deserve some credit for some of their work but some immense censure for other aspects.

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