There are a few types of criminal cases that have both an immediate/all encompassing public safety threat-and Arson is one of them. From late June until July 24th of this year our citizens experienced that real threat. Fortunately there were no injuries or death. For that I am grateful.

While I cannot, and will not, comment directly on the arrest of Arson suspect Debra Johns in this blog, I will comment on Arson cases in general. Arson crimes are unique to say the least. The investigation of Arson is both challenging and time consuming.

Most criminal acts/events have some physical evidence left behind that usually assists Law Enforcement in the investigation as to what occurred, and who may be responsible. Arson is no exception-except that often times such evidence can get destroyed in the ensuing fire. This makes for difficult work when Fire Investigators work to determine the point of origin and cause of a fire.

Arson can also be accomplished in a very short period of time, and with very little effort, when one is operating under our current weather conditions. We are currently in a record drought, with over 10 days of 100 degree temperatures, and it’s not even August yet! It doesn’t take much to start a fire intentionally at this time, and it has the capacity to spread rapidly based on these conditions.

Arson is one of those crimes that does cause much community worry/concern too. The 22+ Arson cases that MPD/MFD investigated in the past few weeks caused many of our folks to “sleep with one eye open.” While MPD and MFD worked diligently on these investigations, the increase in community awareness/assistance was of high value too. There were lots of eyes and ears out there protecting their city, their community, and their neighborhood. That makes a community stronger-and a better place to live. For that I am grateful.

Let’s hope we have seen the end of such Arson cases for a long time to come. Let’s hope that the worry subsides, but that the care/concern continues. We all benefit from each-other, and we all need to take care of each-other. While the recent series of Arson cases did give us good reason to worry, it did result in neighbors talking more with each-other. More folks were looking out for each-other. Here’s hoping that continues.

I am very proud of the joint effort made by MPD and MFD in these investigations. You can be assured that will continue as well.

Tim George
Chief of Police

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