Cabbie illustrates the value of the “invisible army”
Are you recruiting your own troops?
It was an alert cabbie who facilitated the capture of heavily pursued fugitives George and Jennifer Hyatte, suspected in the murder of a Tennessee corrections officer during an 8/9 escape. Not a band of highly trained investigators. Not a pack of K-9s. Not a fleet of police helicopters. It was a “regular guy” whose everyday contact with two criminals led to the information police needed to get suspected killers behind bars.
In an upcoming installment of PoliceOne Columnist Chuck Remsberg’s special series on cultivating and maintaining confidential informants, CI expert Pat McCarthy discusses in detail the value of looking to the “invisible army on the street” to provide information that would otherwise be difficult to surface. The “army” he refers to are the law-abiding citizens who come in close contact with criminals in the course of their legitimate business duties without drawing attention to themselves. They appear harmless, like part of the landscape, and their invisibility lends itself to having criminals feel comfortable talking in front of them. These are people like maintenance workers, delivery people, local business owners, utility personnel and yes, cab drivers.
McCarthy believes that one of the most effective ways officers of all ranks can help solve crimes is by tapping into the wellspring of insider information flowing through the streets. You do that, he says, by proactively develop relationships with the legit (or at least semi-legit) people who may overhear criminals discussing their crimes, see evidence of crimes in areas police officers couldn’t easily access or even witness crimes in progress.
Get out there and distribute your card to cabbies and other service people. Shake hands, tell them you’re interested in hearing from them anytime they think they might have a bead on criminal activity. McCarthy believes that the majority of people are interested in stopping criminals but they feel powerless to do so. If you let them know that you’re available 24/7 to confidentially listen to their tips and that you’re sincerely interested in hearing what they have to say, you’re empowering them and yourself.
George Hyatte then came out with his shirt pulled over his head, walked backward toward the stairwell, got on his knees and was handcuffed, Penn said.
Inside the couple's motel room, cans of Mountain Dew and Hawaiian Punch littered the nightstand, and bags of takeout food wrappers were on a desk. One of the two mattresses was pushed halfway off the box spring.
Authorities said they also recovered weapons.
George Hyatte was taken to the Franklin County jail, said John Bolen, a supervisor for the U.S. Marshals Service in Columbus. Jennifer Hyatte was treated for the bullet wound to the leg, then taken to the jail early Thursday, police said.
The couple was expected to be brought back to Tennessee on warrants for first-degree murder in the death of Wayne "Cotton" Morgan, 56, authorities said.
Earlier Wednesday, outside a motel in Erlanger, authorities had tracked down a van the couple was believed to have used. The couple was gone, but authorities knew then that they were getting close.
Blood had been found in the motel room, and an employee at a nearby restaurant told federal agents she had given directions that day to a couple she later recognized as the fugitives.
George Hyatte, 34, had been in court to plead guilty to a robbery charge before the escape Tuesday. He was two years into a 35-year sentence for robbery and assault.
The escape was at least the fifth time he had gotten away from law enforcement officials between 1990 and 2002.
Jennifer Hyatte, 31, met her husband as a prison nurse and was fired last year for sneaking food to him. A few months later, she got permission from the warden to marry Hyatte, who has a long and violent criminal record.
Her ex-husband, Eli Gourdin, told the Deseret Morning News of Salt Lake City that he last spoke with her Monday when she told him she was excited because George was going to be released.
"We don't know George, we can't judge George ...," Gourdin's current wife, Katie, told the paper. "We only know what Jennifer's told us. She's very much in love with him."
Eli Gourdin said Jennifer Hyatte had custody of their three children, the oldest of whom is 12. The children have been staying with him for the summer, he said.
Associated Press writers Nick Juliano in Columbus, Ohio; Lisa Cornwell in Erlanger, Ky.; and Duncan Mansfield in Kingston, Tenn., contributed to this report.
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