View Full Version : Those Pictures

July 24, 2002, 12:02 PM

You know the photos I mean -- the crime scene pictures in the article about the Cold Case Squad.

It's not so much that the photos are grisly, it's that they appear to be, well, unrelated to the article. At least, not in proportion. Sure, the article talks about that case, briefly. All of three short paragraphs talk about that case, with the rest of the article a discussion about the logistics and rationale behind organizing a 'cold case squad.'

Did this article really require six photos of a crime referred to only in passing?

Or did you choose to put in those photos just for shock value, despite the near-unrelated nature of the article?


Rich Lucibella
July 24, 2002, 12:37 PM
Well, that buck stops here.

These will forever be known as the "Gratuitous Dead Girl Photos". Such will not be repeated.

July 24, 2002, 12:43 PM
Pax, thanks for bringing this up. Hard to explain to the wife why I'm looking at dead girl photos.

Rich thanks for your response. Also, nice pic of you in the issue.



Denny Hansen
July 24, 2002, 12:57 PM
We used the photos provided by the Bernalillo County S.O. The only other photo provided was the one with Sheriff Bowdich and Investigator Peters which is, frankly boring. My thoughts when I chose to run the photos in question was to emphasize how grisly homicide really is and what investigators of this squad (and all across the country) are forced to look at every day.

The buck may stop with Rich, but for those offended the blame needs to be placed directly on my shoulders.


July 24, 2002, 01:04 PM
Wow. Rich, I appreciate your blunt and honest response ... my opinion of you (already high), just went up several notches.

Honestly, I hated posting that message, since I think S.W.A.T. is a great magazine and this issue was excellent overall. I especially appreciated the "Responsibility and Kids" article, though I suspect most soccer moms would run screaming for the hills when confronted with such radical ideas and such a radical commitment to raising responsible kids.


July 24, 2002, 01:16 PM
(Denny posted while I was composing my last message.)


That does make sense -- I know that sometimes you've got a choice between 'not quite right' photos, and no photos, especially when working under deadlines and such. And I agree with you that the other pic was boring.

But I really think six unnecessary pictures of a dead girl is worse than a boring picture or two.

The one good thing about those photos is that they do, as you pointed out, bring home the unsavory nature of most murders, and produce a visceral desire to see the killer brought to justice, no matter how long ago the crime was committed.

But if it were that important, that point could and should have been brought out in the article as well, or in a sidebar, or in one of the captions. If that point were important enough to justify publishing those photos, it was also important enough to put into words.

My .02; kudos on the good stuff, etc etc.


Denny Hansen
July 24, 2002, 01:44 PM
Fair enough. Call it a lapse in judgement. Or as Rich said when he first saw the pictures in print, "Gawd, were you having a black day or what?!"

To tell the truth, having seen much worse during my days as a peace officer, they really didn't bother me all that much. In retrospect, I should have been more sensitive.


July 25, 2002, 08:59 PM
I felt the photos were appropriate for SWAT. They should not of been run in G---- and A------, but SWAT is a book about the real world and not about sporting clays or squirrel hunting. The photos gave just a glmpse of the real world. They were very, very mild. I have been in apartments where a body was bloated and black, seen humans chopped up by machetes-some alive and screaming when I arrived- a shotgun hit just below the brow,
and bodies that did not look like bodies when dug up. You have just got to be able to see this to understand the reality.

One thing even SWAT will never be able to convey is the smell. The smell is something else. If you dont bury an aminal, the smell goes away in a few days. Humans that are murdered not only have that horrible smell, they leave the ground parched and nothing will grow-they have got to be buried.

Well, its a rough world. Those photos were mild, but there is a difference between learning and entertainment. I think SWAT has a balance of both but also that our editor has the idea that SWAT is there to save lives, of the good guys, and also to aid in keeping the good guys safe and to help the good guys catch the bad guys. We are alone in that. Law and Order has gone down the tubes and is mostly about administration-read that cya- as are most of the now newstand 'police journals'. They are mostly
'how to tell Sgt Dork he needs to change deordant in a sensitive manner'.
SWAT stands alone.

If she had been underground a little longer, you could not of told the difference in the blue jeans and her skin.
And at least the photos were of an adult.
Sleep well.

A former patrol Lt. with a degree in Criminal Justice
(Police Science)

Rich Lucibella
July 26, 2002, 08:49 AM
Publisher Hat Off.
Reader Hat On.

I disagree, RK. The blood and gore in The Godfather movie, for instance, was unprecedented. However, it was necessary and appropriate to the storyline. In this case, one image of the body, demonstrating the taped hands, would have sufficed.....one would have done it. The additional three, including the frontal pic, provided me no additional insight in context of the article. Nor did I need the half buried face to understand that the "Victim's face showed evidence of her interment". I'd have preferred to see the space for those images dedicated to more info on the Squad or its cases.

Reader Hat Off:
Publisher Hat On:

The images were not particularly gruesome. I had the opportunity to kill them at Blue Line stage and didn't. I think that was a mistake that I need to learn from. As for Denny; yup, he was having a rather black day reading "stopping power" and "master blaster" threads here on TFL. ;) However, like you, Denny rides for the brand and I couldn't ask for better. If this is the worst mistake made in this partnership, we're due to be a raging success!

July 26, 2002, 01:36 PM
I also agree with rkc's points.

Many are sheltered from the reality of the dark side of life tho and if exposed, are horrified.

Whether the sheltered should be exposed in the magazine is something that I cannot Judge tho.

Therefore, I am staying neutral on the choice to use them.

But do respect the honor displayed by both Rich and Denny in the aftermath.


July 26, 2002, 01:41 PM
I'd have to agree they were a tad on the gruesome side for say.. reading on an airplane, but the rest of the issue was GREAT.

Swat is looking good Denny. Keep up the good work.

Jeff White
July 26, 2002, 01:58 PM

I'm with rkc and Erick, I never gave the photos a second thought either. In fact, I thought that their inclusion with the article was another way to elevate S.W.A.T. above the other magazines out there. They weren't gruesome or sensational. I thought they did a pretty good job of portraying the tragedy that can be found in life. I thought they did a pretty good job of illustrating what a cold case unit has to work with.

A tabloid would have found some sensationally gory photos and splashed a banner headline about them on the cover, maybe even with a small teaser photo to get the curious to pick the issue up off the news stand. The other gun magazines wouldn't have run the photos at all. I think you and Denny achieved the right balance. S.W.A.T. is becoming a magazine that appeals to the professional, the armed citizen and the firearms hobbyist.

Just look at some of the threads in this forum. We've had everything from good natured banter, to some pretty good discussion on training and techniques. If your getting that here, it has to be carrying over to readers who aren't TFL members.


Rich Lucibella
July 26, 2002, 02:53 PM
Well, if one more person provides the same input, I guess I'll be offering Denny a very public apology. (Damn, I hate doing that!) ;)

I think you and Denny achieved the right balance. What do you mean "you and Denny"? Denny had nothing to do with it...it was all my idea. Yeah, that's the ticket! I was trying to add, uh, "balance"....yup, balance. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

July 26, 2002, 03:35 PM
I posted above about my wife (or could be third party) wondering why I'm looking at dead girl photos.

In a past life, as a Public Defender and private lawyer, I saw lots of photos not very different from this. The point is that even an unsheltered reader may find such photos to be more "distracting" than informative, and may have concerns about passing the magazine around or leaving it around the house.

Kudos to Rich & Denny and regards to all who posted here.

This thread is a good example of everyone taking the high road.


Jeff White
July 26, 2002, 03:46 PM
I meant you and Denny, because it seems that you understand something that many in our society have sadly forgotten. You undersatnd that as the owner, you are ultimately responsible for the content. Your post was very refreshing for me. It's not often I see that in either of my lines of work, and that is sad.

You guys keep it up, you're a good team.


July 26, 2002, 04:43 PM
Hey, clarification here!

I did not say those photos were "too icky" to print. I said there were too many of them with too little tie-in to the article they were purportedly illustrating -- which, in turn, made it look as if the photos were included only for shock value.

Icky pictures are okay. Unnecessary icky pictures are bad.


July 28, 2002, 12:24 PM
I am glad Rich and Denny look at my work and it isn't just thrown out there--- thats why I have the easy job. I can research my subject for months. They have to know EVERY subject in the book, and know it well

They are my Sir Francis Bacon and I am the Shakespeare who gets the credit-although I am not illiterate as he was.

Anyway,this is the most cordial disagreement I have seen, and we all have the reader in mind.

remember those True Police magazines, etc, that had a girl tied up on the cover? all the sensational photos?

that was some of the best true crime literature every published, and I had to wade through a stack of them to get my degree in Criminal Justice-prof. Henry mandated it! But a bit of the absurd gets your attention.

yes, Rich, we are going to do very well.

Take care

July 29, 2002, 11:01 AM
I too noticed the slight disconnection between all the photo's and the scope of the article, but I didn't really mind them being there. I just wish I wasn't eating lunch when I read that article.

July 30, 2002, 12:11 AM
After some time...
And rereading the article a few times....

I think that 4 out of the 6 pictures are not superflous.

Germaine to the story and illustrating some of the investigative problems and procedures described in the story.

Wide shot of gravesite helps put the reader in the shoes of the discoverers.

Taped mouth close up and both shots of taped hands tie nicely into the story.

The other two shots......coin flip.

Sam....I may be slow but at least I'm not always right.:)

George Hill
July 30, 2002, 01:04 AM
Just take those images for another reason why we carry guns.
They were a bit shoking, disturbing, or whatever you might call them. They are also very real.
That's what murder looks like. That is why we carry guns for defense. That's why every honest and level headed citizen should carry one. That's exactly why.