B team: The city police worked swiftly to dispel a hoax
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From the moment the Web-based Drudge Report made 20-year-old Ashley Todd an object of political fascination around the country, Pittsburgh police found themselves in the national spotlight.
Ms. Todd, a volunteer for the McCain campaign from College Station, Texas, claimed to be a victim of a mugging at an ATM by a black man in Bloomfield last week. The more she described to police how she was mugged in one of the city's safest and busiest neighborhoods, however, the less it made sense.
Ms. Todd said a "B" was scratched into her face with a dull knife by a thief who disliked her politics. She said her assailant told her, "You are going to be a Barack supporter." While there was much to her story that was dubious, the police working the case conducted an orderly and professional investigation.
For cops, skepticism is a tool that points to the truth. They checked surveillance tapes and ATM records. At one point, they questioned Ms. Todd for five hours. They even asked her to take a polygraph -- twice.
Finally, they confronted Ms. Todd with the totality of her lies, and she finally recanted. Naturally, she blamed the media for "blowing the story out of proportion."
The detectives working the case are to be commended for their restraint and compassion in dealing with a very troubled woman. With the eyes of the political world on Pittsburgh, the police knew they had to close the case before it grew into something impervious to the facts.
Sterling police work like this deserves the public's thanks.
First Published October 30, 2008 12:00 am