Over the last several decades, one of the primary factors that has lead to skepticism regarding UFO reports is that debunkers have had no problem attacking the credibility of the alleged witnesses. Physicist Stephen Hawking famously stated during a lecture years ago that, if UFOs were indeed representative of an advanced alien intelligence, it seems strange that the only people that would see them were “cranks and weirdos.” At such times, the attitude among scientists when addressing UFO the phenomenon does appear to be somewhat ideologically rooted, if not perhaps fueled by a certain degree of ignorance on part of those making the statements.

Certainly, not all individuals who see a strange object in the sky are societal outcasts… at least no more than we could similarly assume that UFOs are always most likely to represent alien intelligences. And yet, even if a UFO witness doesn’t appear to be “mad” or foolish outright, and manages to tell a very compelling story that is free of any contradictions or other questionable elements, it is often still easy for skeptical researchers to launch criticisms that are logically sound, if not somewhat unwarranted. These are typically based on such things as the witness’s worldview, educational background, or even more simply, their perceived inability to discern common aerial phenomenon from what, at times, may appear to be something more complex and fantastic. A person doesn’t have to be lying simply to be wrong about what they think they may have seen, and while this is not always the assertion, it has been made more than once. Again, the ideological component in the battle between believer and skeptic becomes apparent.

Some skeptics I have spoken with over the years have been resolute, if not aggressive, in their attitudes toward UFO witnesses, sometimes calling them all “liars.” In the more moderate instances, I’ve found myself a bit more receptive to the occasional chuckling that ensues, as the doubtful maintain that while some of the testimonies given in relation to UFO sightings have been, at times, very compelling, they still don’t constitute physical evidence. I admit that this is true, of course, and my own skeptical leanings would agree that, in order to fully and methodically come to terms with the UFO phenomenon, we must maintain, at all times, a degree of scientific rigor that surpasses the common, more mundane approaches to so-called “UFO research.” In essence, we should be careful with how we label the phenomenon, and also careful about differentiation between physical evidence and mere witness testimony. Perhaps of greatest importance regarding the latter of those two, we should look carefully at whose testimony we adhere to, when it seems to point to an underlying phenomenon worthy of scientific study.

Therefore, it is important to consider the fact that, from time to time, the “cranks and weirdos” or presumed “liars” that represent the witnesses to UFO events are also law enforcement officers who, in some instances, have become participants in multiple-witness encounters. While these cases may remain unable to provide much hard physical proof of an exotic technology, they nonetheless lend to the more credible instances where witness testimony is collected about UFOs. Specifically, these involve cases where numerous police officers, responding to a UFO report, have managed to see a flying object, correspond and cross reference with other officers about the object they observed, and perhaps even photograph the UFO while it appeared before them.

Below, we will look at two instances where this may have occurred. The first of these includes a compelling photograph, retrieved from my personal investigation files, which also provides an equally compelling, if not (in fairness) an unsubstantiated bit of corroborating testimony. The second, a more widely reported incident, provides what may be the best evidence of a multiple-witness UFO encounter among police agencies in Illinois, which took place in January of  2001.

The Stephenville Triangle

A number of years ago, a fellow researcher and I received such a report from a police officer based in Stephenville, Texas, during the height of a now famous UFO flap that had been occurring there. The officer requested anonymity, which my colleagues and I have resolutely maintained on his behalf, in return for his written testimony involving a strange, triangle-shaped UFO he and his partner not only observed, but which they also managed to photograph.

The individual, whom I am no longer in any contact with, related the story to an associate of mine via email as follows:

“When we approached the location we saw intense reddish lights ahead. As we came closer they were bright and plasma like, just above the ground and very large. The balls of light reacted to us when we were about 1000 feet from their location and moved skyward at a very high rate of speed. I was in my car looking upwards and it was then I saw a triangle shaped object high over my head. The orbs or plasma balls were moving upwards towards the triangle object. The triangle object was also moving upwards at a high rate of speed. The orbs were moving faster and joined up with the triangle. I had a camera in the car and reached over and grabbed it. I took 5 photos towards this area of the sky with the flash off. Of the 5 photos this is the only one that was clear. You will see the 2 orbs and triangle object. By the time this photo was taken they had already moved very high above my location and were almost about out of visible sight. There is video of the lights as we approached and the plasma like balls on the ground but am not in a position to share this. I hope this photo will serve of some use in your investigation. I do not believe what I saw had anything to do with any type of secret military type technology else I would not have sent you this photo.”


The photo that accompanied the email message, while somewhat difficult to make out, nonetheless very clearly shows a triangle-shaped object, along with what the officer called large, “plasma like” orbs that ascended toward the craft as it gained altitude. Above, I have included a cropped, enhanced version of the image, which features only the two orbs, as well as the faint outline of the triangular craft above. Below, the entire, unedited photo is shown for reference:

One may also notice in the unedited image directly above what resembles three pinpoints of light, closer to the bottom of the image, which form a triangular shape. These are not to be confused with the smaller “triangle”, located amidst the two orange spheres, which was no doubt what the photographer intended that we perceive as the craft in question. However, I have wondered if it is possible that the implied larger triangle below, constituted by the pinpoints of light I’ve referenced, might not have resulted from light reflecting off the camera’s lens at the time the photo was taken. We might presume these reflections had emanated from the craft, the orbs ascending toward it, or perhaps a combination of the two… and all of this given that the photo shows what the alleged photographer claims it does. There have been similar instances in the past where I’ve observed such photographic anomalies, produced by reflections of actual light sources against a camera lens in this way.

Based on the story the officer related, I wish I still knew how to contact the man. Of course, the video he references in his story, presumably filmed using the dash camera on the police patrol car, would be interesting to see; for reasons that are quite understandable, I doubt this footage–if it still exists at all–will ever be shown publicly.

This case, despite the compelling photographs it includes (which, somewhat remarkably, mimic the details of popular reports of triangle-shaped UFOs, like those seen in Belgium in the 1990s), leaves very much to the imagination. It also presents us with a number of logistical problems, in that the witness is no longer in communication with my associates or I, and nor do I have any way of knowing how to find this individual today (aside, perhaps, from traveling to Texas, showing up at the local police department, and asking if any of the officers there could share any UFO stories).

The factor of anonymity presented here is common in many UFO reports, and for reasons that should be obvious to us: whether the credible witness is a tenured academic professor, or an officer of the law, there is a genuine fear that results from going on record and saying you’ve seen something which, as the witness in the instance above described, had not, in his mind, been “any type of secret military type technology.” The obvious implication here is that the craft seemed otherworldly, whether or not this was indeed the case. A photograph alone, let alone even testimony of something so seemingly advanced and exotic, cannot succeed in relating to us the true history and origin of the circumstances that occurred on the evening in question, or whether it truly involved a large, triangle-shaped UFO.

However, perhaps when more than one or two officers are involved, it would reduce the strain of credibility on those who otherwise might succumb to self-imposed shame or fear of ridicule. Such was the case in 2000, when over the course of a few short minutes on the morning of January 5, shortly after 4:00 in the morning, a number of active, on-duty police officers, spanning several departments across the region, managed to witness (and photograph) something they could not explain.

A Giant Mystery over Illinois

Officer Ed Barton, one of the earliest responding officers, had initially told the operator at dispatch who alerted him to a call about an unidentified flying object, that “if I see it, I’m not saying a word.” Within minutes however, Barton would share the observation of a large triangle shaped-craft with a number of responding officers. Barton would later note, “I guess I changed my mind about that,” referencing his earlier commitment to silence. Nonetheless, it still illustrates the potential for hesitation on part of officers of the law who might otherwise seek to discuss through official channels anything unusual they may have seen; in this case, the “unusual” object had been a UFO.

Perhaps even more interesting than the testimony provided by officer Barton, along with others who responded to the alert from dispatch, was a polaroid photograph taken by Craig Stevens of the nearby Millstadt Police Department. The photograph had not been of the same quality as that provided by the Stephenville officer featured earlier, although the image nonetheless helps corroborate the stories of the numerous officers involved with the 2000 early morning encounter.


Above: The polaroid photograph taken by Millstadt Police Officer Craig Stevens. 

An excellent independent documentary film, titled The Edge of Realityis available online for viewing, which not only tells the story with computer aided graphics depicting approximations of the craft seen by witnesses, but also includes actual recorded phone calls between the responding officers and dispatch. Below, I’ve included a link to the documentary:

It would certainly seem that cases like these would add a layer of complexity to the ongoing UFO mystery, and while not necessarily lending evidence to an exotic or alien form of technology, per se, they aid in presenting information which helps solidify the reality of what may be highly advanced aerial technologies in our skies. Whatever these craft are, such cases also show us that official agencies, including the U.S. Air Force, claim no knowledge of the craft and their operations, even when confronted by law enforcement officers in search of answers about the strange craft they have observed.

When faced with the unprovable, hard evidence–as with ongoing UFO research–often seems to be woefully lacking. The testimonies given by the likes of officers Barton and Stevens does not in itself constitute hard, physical proof. It does, however, provide what is perhaps the most credible testimony collected over the last few decades, in support of some element behind the UFO mystery that can indeed by substantiated.

Police officer image by CeCILL via Wikimedia Commons

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