Tucson police chief: "We keep a lot of the information close to the vest"
CREATED May 3, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The nearly seven-minute Today Show live interview with the parents of Isabel Celis, Sergio and Rebecca, stirred a lot of emotions across Tucson and the country. Among the people watching and reacting: Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked the Chief Villaseñor Thursday, “What do you think is the effect of this one, single interview?” “I think that it serves to keep it in the public view, it keeps bringing it forward,” he said, and added it is crucial to keep generating tips and leads to find the six year old, missing for 13 days now.
In the segment on national TV, Isa’s parents said they feel police are keeping them "at bay" during the investigation.
“They're absolutely right,” Villaseñor said. “We keep everyone a little bit at bay right here. We keep a lot of the information close to the vest because until we are positive about something or have developed probable cause about something, we're not going to reveal everything or everything that we know.”
“They felt like police may have wasted some time or are wasting time focusing on them, scrutinizing them,” Keen asked. “Is that just a natural feeling that is inevitable?” “I can understand their perception of that,” the chief replied. “I can guarantee you we're not wasting any time on anything that we're doing on this case. We're been very thorough.”
Does Chief Villaseñor feel the family is criticizing his department's work?
“No, I think they were being honest about their feelings. I think those are legitimate feelings,” he said. “They get frustrated because they don't get to know everything we know. But they also understood that we were doing what we felt was necessary to find Isabel. I would expect those type of comments.”
The Today Show also featured home video of Isabel--something 9 On Your Side has repeatedly asked Tucson police and the family for. The Celises gave the video to Today. Late Thursday, TPD released it to 9 On Your Side, 13 days after the search began.
“Could that be a tool in getting the word out about who this little girl is that's missing? This is what see looks like, this is what she acts like, which we wouldn't get from photographs or descriptions?” Keen asked.
“I don't think so because I've looked at all the pictures that have been put out about Isabel,” the chief answered. “I tell you, it tugs at your heart. You look at that little girl and she is just beautiful. She is angelic. You see her personality coming out of the still photos as well. I don't think that anyone ever doubted the innocence and purity of Isabel and how important it was to find her. I don't think that the video adds anything different because, really, we're asking for people to look at the physical appearance and identify us if they see that. Not the personality.”
Villaseñor said TPD and FBI analysts will remain at the Midtown Substation command post through at least the end of the week to look over the "mountains of information" yet to be reviewed in the case. Next week, the department will reevaluate having a dedicated team at the substation and on this one case.