U.S. use of geographic profiler underlines Vancouver's failure
The Vancouver Sun
Tue 08 Oct 2002


The Vancouver police would dearly love to put the Kim Rossmo affair behind them. But just when they think they may have heard the last of him, he's in the local news again.

Dr. Rossmo, you may recall, is the geographic profiling expert who rose quickly -- too quickly for some, it would seem -- to the position of detective-inspector in the Vancouver police force.

In 2000, he was essentially demoted to constable, left the department and then sued for wrongful dismissal. The B.C. Supreme Court rejected Dr. Rossmo's suit on the grounds that he served as a detective-inspector only on a contract basis, and his five-year contract had expired. He is appealing the decision.

Now Dr. Rossmo works on geographic profiling for the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C. The system of geographic profiling he developed while studying for a PhD at Simon Fraser University is being used in the case of a serial killer now stalking the Washington area with a rifle.

In the security-crazy Washington region, his expertise is sought and respected. He was present when police met with reporters in Rockville, Md., a suburb just north of Washington.

Which reminds us that his expertise was not held in such high regard in Vancouver, where senior police failed to respond appropriately when he told them in May 1999 that a serial killer was likely behind the troubling disappearance of women from the Downtown Eastside.

Despite the warning, senior police downplayed the theory.

The investigation of the missing women -- now numbering 63 -- continued to be dogged by inertia and a lack of resources. A formal joint investigation with the RCMP in neighbouring municipalities wasn't established until early 2001.

We know that what's done is done, yet many questions linger.

Why didn't senior Vancouver police respond smartly to the opinion of such an expert in their midst? And why have we seen no formal, public effort to examine how the failures of the missing women investigation can be avoided in the future?

Unlike many Vancouver police, we're glad that Kim Rossmo's name is back in the news, as it reminds us that these troubling questions have yet to be adequately answered.

Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 



Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016