WATERVILLE — It’s not unusual for police to advise people against speaking to the media.

“It’s kind of a case-by-case thing,” said Chuck Drago, a retired police chief from of Oviedo, Fla., and law enforcement consultant.

During Justin DiPietro’s first television appearance Monday, the father of missing 21-month-old Ayla Reynolds said he had avoided the media for two weeks because police told him media interviews might hinder the investigation.

Two of the agencies involved in the search for Ayla Reynolds — Maine State Police and Waterville Police — declined to comment Tuesday on whether they had advised DiPietro to avoid media contact.

Waterville Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey did say that police sometimes offer advice to people involved in cases, but any decision to offer advice is determined according to the individual case.

Also on Tuesday, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said there are no new developments in the case.

Drago runs Drago Professional Consultants, consulting with police agencies and serving as an expert witness for both plaintiff and defense attorneys. He was a police officer for more than 30 years, according to his website.

“It would not be unusual for (police) to ask individuals involved in the case to not make statements,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday.

Drago said information about an ongoing investigation needs to be managed closely. Police need to balance the public’s need for information without creating false or misleading information in people’s minds, he said.

At the same time, police are aware that media silence on the part of people involved in the case can appear suspicious, he said.

“Preferably, if it’s really necessary for that person to speak, the officers can help them in terms of what to say and what not to say, and that type of thing,” he said.

Nonetheless, Drago said law enforcement’s advice is voluntary.

“Obviously, everybody has the right to speak to the media whenever they feel like it,” he said.

In missing children cases, police might offer to coach people before speaking to the media.

“If the parent really wants to (speak publicly), or if they think it’s a benefit to get out there and ask for the public’s help, law enforcement might try to coordinate with the family members,” he said.

Drago said there are also times when police actively encourage family members to speak to the press.

“If there’s something that might benefit the case, and police feel it’s good (information) to put out, they’ll try to manage that and work with that person to speak out,” he said.  “We know it happens very often in missing children cases when the parents plead with whomever may have the child or so forth.”

Drago said it’s not unusual that police haven’t announced any new developments in the Ayla case since Saturday.

“They may not have anything to add,” he said. “Sometimes nothing happens for days, and sometimes law enforcement will feel compelled to say something because the media is putting a lot of pressure on them.

“It’s getting to the point where things going to get kind of slow and quiet, so there probably won’t be a lot of information to give out at this point.”

Ayla was reported missing from her Violette Avenue home on Dec. 17. She was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas with the words “Daddy’s Princess” printed on them.

On Dec. 30, police announced that Ayla’s disappearance had changed from a missing person case to a criminal investigation.

A $30,000 reward has been offered for information that leads investigators to Ayla, who will be two on April 4.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239
[email protected]


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