Friday, February 15, 2008

Patricia Cornwell Spends $250,000 Proclaiming Respect for Cops

By Edward Nawotka

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- A week after donating $1 million to New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice to fund courses in crime-scene investigation, bestselling mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell has spent a further $250,000 on full-page newspaper ads to reassure police officers that she likes them.

Cornwell told the Associated Press last week that she had made the donation after having seen ``cops walk through blood'' and ``leave their own fingerprints on a window.''

The ads, which appeared on Friday in the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today, read, in part, ``What has been publicized certainly does not accurately reflect my deep respect and admiration for these hardworking law enforcement professionals.''

Cornwell now says her comments to the AP were directed at the general public, not the police.

``What I was appalled by was what I've seen citizens do, not the police,'' Cornwell said when reached by phone. ``I've been riding with the police for 30 years. I care about these people and I'm not criticizing them. Any mistakes investigators make are not their fault. Too often they don't have the training or resources they need, which is what the donation is meant to address.''

Cornwell blames television shows such as ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' for misinforming people about police work. ``You'd think they were flying around on the USS Enterprise and using magic, instead of using Polaroid cameras and paying their own cell-phone bills like some of the investigators I know.''

Meddling With Evidence

She says TV has led people to think they're helping when they meddle with crime scenes, and cites an instance in which robbery victims laid out index cards highlighting evidence for the police to find.

``If it were up to me, some of these people should be brought up on charges for tampering with evidence, if only as a warning,'' Cornwell said. ``It's getting scary. We need to take control of our crime scenes again.''

This is not the first time the author has used newspaper advertisements to defend her reputation. In 2005, she took out full-page ads in British papers the Guardian and the Independent denying that she was obsessed with Jack the Ripper. She had spent more than $6 million funding a new investigation into the Ripper murders, publishing a book about the results, ``Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed,'' in 2002. She has continued to work on the case and plans to publish a new edition.