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  • Andrea Cipriano

You Don't Need a Badge to Be a Detective

I had a good friend ask me recently, "What would you do if you were actually at a crime scene?"

For a moment, I was caught off guard because that's not a question that comes up often in conversation ⁠— but then again, it's me we're talking about.


I'm the girl that moved to New York City to join New York's Finest with big dreams of donning a badge and catching bad guys, so of course, the question came up.


This kind of friendly inquiry flashes my mind back to a few years ago when I did imagine myself scoping out gruesome crime scenes, only so that I could be promoted and work on the "forgotten" ones in the future.


Anna Marie Scivetti

"Forgotten" ones like that of Anna Marie Scivetti, the first cold case I was ever introduced to. I was baffled by how a young woman with so much vitality could vanish from the world, leaving no evidence behind -- not even a known crime scene.


Cold cases like Anna's motivated me to plan my career path down to the last detail so that when I was older, I'd have the knowledge and skills to help.


Then, while in high school, I worked on various projects with NYPD Cold Case Detectives. Getting that chance to see and experience everything first hand solidified my passions.


I left the suburbs behind and enrolled in John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study Forensic Psychology. My dreams of eventually being a Cold Case Detective were beginning to manifest in perfect harmony.


That is, until my NYPD Cadet Corp Orientation.


Me at the NYPD Cadet Orientation in August of 2018. Photo via @nypdcadetcorps

Not even 24 hours after my orientation, through a series of literal missteps, I broke a major bone in my foot. My sudden injury completely halted the hiring process, and with my application at a standstill, I missed crucial deadlines while being unable to walk for eight weeks.


I had one final interview before I would've been hired with the incoming class of January 2019, but since I was behind, the meeting couldn't be scheduled in time.


Suddenly, my perfectly planned future had its timing in a tailspin. I found myself needing to reevaluate my direction and how I was going to get there. I wasn't going to get the chance to work on cold cases in the same way I had always envisioned.


I was beyond devastated.


My favorite true crime shows like NYPD Blue, Cold Justice, and Criminal Minds all became unbearable to watch because I felt embarrassed ⁠— almost unworthy ⁠— knowing I'd never be in an interrogation room working with a Sipowitz, a Kelly Siegler, or a Spencer Reid.


But, eventually, those same shows that reminded me of my unfulfilled dream of being in law enforcement were the same shows that told me: there's another way.


Me investigating Abby and Libby's former crime scene location in 2017 with Deer Creek behind me. This is the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi Indiana. Abby and Libby's case is still unsolved.

Another way to help families, another way to investigate cold cases, another way to bring a bit more peace into the world. I still had visions of myself in the future examining crime scenes. And, after spending time doing some soul searching, I realized that was something I could still do.

I can travel to crime scenes, spread awareness to cases that need to be solved, and publish my forensic profiles through digital media platforms.

There is no faster growing genre than true crime. These stories are at our fingertips in the forms of documentaries, T.V. shows, YouTube channels, books, blogs, podcasts, and even monthly murder mystery game subscriptions (I could say I'm shocked about that last one, but that would be a lie).


There's no denying there can be a dark side to true crime. This is when education and awareness about a case is lost, the message gets misconstrued, and someone else's tragedy is sensationalized. That is inexcusable, and it's sometimes why people don't understand the allure of the genre.


However, inspired by the content are people who Investigative Journalist Billy Jensen would categorize as "Citizen Detectives" ⁠— 'individuals who devote their time and expertise to aid in the solving of crimes, without compensation or expectation of a reward.'


The overwhelming emotions I feel when hearing about someone's tragic story keeps me up at night. And, a lot of these family members don't know the endings to their loved one's stories ⁠— stories they didn't even want to tell in the first place.


I often think, What happened? Who was the victim? How is the family doing? Who are the suspects? These kinds of questions swirl around my head when I should be counting sheep.


Truthfully, creating this website and my YouTube channel inspired by my drive to advocate and educate was the greatest thing that's ever happened to me.


Badge or no badge, I know I'll be closely following cases for years to come.


So, to my good friend who asked me what I would do at a crime scene ⁠— regardless if it's fresh or cold ⁠— my answer is pretty simple: I'll do everything in my power to solve the case.

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