Do Police Departments Really Employ Psychics?

I’ve heard the term “police psychic” enough to wonder whether they are real. I don’t believe much in extra-sensory perception or in the supernatural. And as far as I know, psychics are generally scam artists. I suppose that psychics may be gifted in taking notice of things that most of us miss. However, I would think that people employed by a police department would be called something other than psychics.

It happens, although it’s not “employment” in the sense that the frauds are actually steadily employed by the police department. At least, I hope that never happens.

Thanks Priceguy. I somehow missed that column.

Only ONE case i am familiar with: the so-called “BOSTON STRANGLER” of the early 1960’s. the Boston Police dept. 9against better judgement0 was making no progress on the case, and after 7 women had been murdered, decided to bring in a “psychic”. the guy they selected was a Dutchman (the late Peter Hurkos). It was a total disaster-not only did Hurkos NOT provide any useful clues, he wound up creating friction between the detectives assigned to the case. it was a total embarrassment and gave some good detectives a black eye.
If these "psychics’ were any good, then proof would have emerged by now.

It definitely happens, probably more than we’d like to think. There have been a number of documented cases over the years (see chapter 11 more a more direct answer to the OP).

Some major police departments (such as LAPD) flatly deny ever using psychics. Thus many of the stories one hears that are corroborated by police are usually done so by the detective working the case in question. In the cases that I’m familiar with, the detective had exhausted every lead prior to engaging the psychic and approached the psychic with a great deal of skepticism.

It’s much more common for a psychic to contact the police about a particular case, and in major cases, the number of people claiming to be psychics with information about a crime can be overwhelming. Needless to say, the signal to noise ratio is extremely poor in terms of psychic tips that actually pan out, which can be a huge drain on police resources. Even worse, psychics will sometimes contact the victims’ families with the information (especially if they feel they are being ignored by the police), which can be terribly traumatic (especially to a family already in crisis).

So I think what you have to keep in mind when you see shows on television detailing psychics being involved in police investigations is that for every psychic who appears to have produced helpful information, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands who don’t. Cases where the psychics do prove to be helpful are easy targets for skeptics, and if you’re not hearing alternate explanations about how the psychic might have “gotten it right” then you’re probably not hearing the whole story, as these cases do tend to attract attention when they arise.

I’d also point out that detectives’ intuition often produces amazing results. Of course, training and experience go a very long way, but often when it’s the detective or policeman who finds the proverbial needle in the haystack, we’ll say that they were “lucky” or “had a good hunch.” Even if their results can’t be attributed to training or investigative technique, you don’t hear them claiming to be psychic.

Every psychic hoping to be the one with the lucky guess. Kinda like a variation o the old “how to be the worlds greatest stock picker.”

Call 1000 people telling 500 stock X will go up the other 500 that stocks will go down, no charge, just look in the paper.

Next day, call the 500 back you were right on and make another prediction.

Call the 250 back you were right on, make another prediction

Lather rinse repeat

Call 125 back and hard pitch them after 4 days of demonstrations of godlike knowledge of stock behavior.