In the material provided to us by the FBI under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as Dr. J. Allen Hynek's FBI file, we found mention of an article that Dr. Hynek had furnished to the FBI for publication in the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin.   We filed an FOIA request for the article and received a copy of it from the FBI in a package postmarked AUG 20 1999.  The package did not include a cover letter.

Although the columnization of the original has not been preserved, the look of the article is otherwise faithful to the original.

- 15-September-1999 - Jim Klotz, CUFON SYSOP

Hynek article title.jpg (46627 bytes)

This photograph, taken in New Jersey, shows a typical reported landing site with a ring 30 feet in diameter,
and a depressed central shaft.

It is natural for law enforcement agencies to solve mysteries. Now, they can help solve what may be one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Law enforcement agencies have been repeatedly involved with people who have reported unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Sometimes, UFO witnesses have been under great emotional stress, and have turned to the police for urgent help and guidance. For many years, local law enforcement officials have borne the brunt of public concern in the persistent mystery of UFOs.

Police Involvement

A great many times police officers have figured in the UFO sightings directly - they have experienced UFOs themselves! This is by no means as rare as the reader might think. In late 1973, dozens of police chiefs, deputies, and officers reported UFO experiences of their own.

On October 16, 1973, the crew of a Delaware State Police helicopter along with flight controllers at the Dover Air Force Base reported a UFO which the helicopter crew chased 14 miles across Kent County.

Several days later, two Adams County, Ohio, deputies on a routine patrol at 1 a.m. reported a UFO hovering some 200 feet above the ground.

On October 19, 1973, a Tulsa, Okla., police sergeant confirmed another officer's report of a hovering multicolored object whose size, they said, would dwarf a 747 jetliner.

Two Los Angeles, Calif., policemen, on November 12, 1973, said they saw a large, round, bluish white object at 9:50 p.m. and observed its maneuvers for more than a minute before it disappeared "at a dazzling rate of speed."

On December 29, 1973, area policemen in Culpeper, Va., sighted three UFOs.


A toll-free "hotline" for the use of law enforcement agencies has been established by the Center for UFO Studies. UFO reports made to these agencies can be relayed to the center for handling and study. The toll-free number (not for general public use) can be obtained by law enforcement agencies by writing to the Center for UFO Studies, P.O. Box 11, Northfield, Ill. 60093.

An entire book was written about the famous UFO sighting in Exeter, N.H., on September 3, 1965, when two officers were called to the scene and observed a spectacular UFO phenomenon. [1] Accounts of other sightings by law enforcement officers have also been published. [2]

In February 1974, a Rochester, Minn., patrolman chased a "meandering, flame-spewing UFO" along Highway 52 as dozens of motorists pulled off the road in astonishment. During the chase, the radio dispatcher reported to the patrolman that the police station was receiving many phone calls from people saying they had observed something strange in the sky. [3]

Many other police reports are on record. And, these experiences are not uniquely American, - French, Italian, English, Canadian, and Australian police have frequently been involved in UFO sightings.

Despite all this, the matter of UFOs has generally been the subject of ridicule. For years, we have laughed at UFOs and the people who report them. But now, after a quarter century of poking fun, of laughing it off, and of calling UFOs entirely the result of overheated imaginations, the scientific world is slowly awakening to the fact that something real is going on. Science and law enforcement are facing a mutual problem as they have many times before.

A body of scientists and other professional persons, all established in their own fields, organized to create a center for UFO studies because no one was "minding the store." Although some wide-ranging studies had been conducted, these had not followed the continuing nature of the UFO phenomenon. In late 1973, these men - physicists, astronomers, sociologists, psychologists, laboratory heads at several universities around the country (and in France and Australia too) - established the Center for UFO Studies.

UFO Central

In the fall of 1973, the United States experienced a major wave of UFO reports, a great many of which involved law enforcement personnel - either directly or indirectly. Regardless of the source of UFOs or their legitimacy, these sightings represented a real problem for law enforcement because people had to have someplace to go to report and some official person to whom they could recount their experience.

Into this breach, the Center for UFO Studies entered. It operates a toll-free telephone service (UFO CENTRAL), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Upon observation of a UFO or receipt of a UFO report, law enforcement officials need only dial the number and an operator (located in Chicago) will request specific information. The form used by the operators is shown on next page.

"Law enforcement agencies have been repeatedly involved with people who have reported unidentified flying objects (UFOs)."

Through the cooperation of the director of Northwestern University's Traffic Institute, this toll-free number was distributed to several thousand police chiefs and sheriffs around the country. It is urged that this number be widely disseminated to lawmen in all parts of the country. Phone stickers with this number are available through the center.

A word of caution. The number should not be given to citizens reporting the UFO. The law enforcement agency should place the call. Nor, of course, should the number ever be released to the public for obvious reasons.

 Hynek pic.jpg (22143 bytes)
Dr. Hynek is chairman of the Department of Astronomy, Northwestern University. and director of the Lindheimer Astronomical Research Center and of the Dearborn Observatory. He was formerly associate director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge. Mass., and scientific consultant to the Air Force on the subject of UFOs. He is be author many technical articles and books.

 The UFO CENTRAL "hotline" serves the purpose of mutual cooperation. On the one hand, the Center for UFO Studies is helped by receiving UFO reports that have been prescreened, so to speak, by first being reported to a law enforcement agency. Equally important, the law enforcement agency has an authoritative, scientific agency to which reports can be passed for any appropriate action, such as follow-up interviews or scientific examinations.

There is, however, a more important cooperative function law enforcement agencies can serve - to protect the scene of a sighting, as they do the scene of a crime - that is, to insure that in those cases in which marks on the ground, broken tree branches, or crop damage is found, the site is protected from curiosity seekers arid souvenir hunters. Many times in the past, before a scientifically qualified investigator could arrive, bystanders not only destroyed physical evidence but loitered. They pestered the original witnesses to an extent which discouraged some from an interest in reporting further their experience.


UFO Central form.jpg (53837 bytes)

Here is how the center operates once a report comes into UFO CENTRAL:

The report is evaluated by the receiving operator; if it is considered urgent (for example, a landing case, particularly if physical evidence is reported) the director of the center is immediately notified, regardless of the time of day, and appropriate action is taken. Usually, this consists of telephone interviews with the original witness to get the record straight early in the game, followed by notification of a center investigator in the area. Since investigators serve on a volunteer basis (but are generally professional people, often engineers or those with other technical training), they are notified immediately only in urgent cases.

If the UFO report does not demand immediate attention, an investigator is notified by phone or mail, and a report form is sent to witnesses for return to the center.

The Invisible College

The Center for UFO Studies did not spring up suddenly. It had already existed in spirit among a number of scientists and engineers who had taken a private interest in UFOs, meeting wherever they could at private homes, or with one another in their travels. These men called themselves the "Invisible College," a name with an ancient and honorable history. Way back in the "dark ages" of science, when scientists themselves were suspected of being in league with the Devil, they had to work privately. They often met clandestinely to exchange views and the results of their various experiments. For this reason, they called themselves the Invisible College.

And it remained invisible until the scientists of that clay gained respectability when the Royal Society was chartered by Charles II in tile early 1660's. Similarly, the creation of the Center for UFO Studies from the UFO Invisible College represents a step toward recognition. To a considerable extent, however, it is still a matter of bucking indifference as the early scientists once had to resist the popular superstition of the day.

In late 1973, it had clearly become the time to act.

The scientific board of the center consists of faculty members and scientists at such universities as Stanford, UCLA, University of Chicago, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, Illinois, Johns Hopkins, Yeshiva, and Northwestern.

"... proper scientific investigation of current UFO reports is of prime importance.

Announcement of the center brought responses from many quarters and offers of volunteer help from technically trained persons from all over the country. In the main, these people offered their services as investigators of current UFO cases. Although present UFO data are already mountainous, proper scientific investigation of current UFO reports is of prime importance. In the past, because of the obscuring "ridicule curtain," proper investigation was rarely carried out, and many cases could probably have yielded hardcore data; instead, only anecdotal material resulted.

In obtaining hardcore data, the cooperation of law enforcement officials is of great importance. Only they can protect, for instance, the scene of a UFO incident from disturbance, and their presence at such a scene lends authority which the public recognizes.

In France, officials have publicly acknowledged their support of cooperative efforts when investigating serious UFO reports. The '"Gendarmerie Nationale," an official publication of the Gendarmes (a branch of the French National Police), discusses procedures which French police should follow upon receiving a report of a sighting.

Public Concern

It is misleading to assume that because one does not read a great deal about UFOs in newspapers (there are far more reports of UFO sightings in small town newspapers as compared with large urban dailies) that the public is not interested or concerned about them. The "grassroots" interest is nevertheless believed to he very high. Just start a conversation about UFOs at almost any gathering from a cocktail party to a civic meeting and you'll be surprised how (slowly at first} UFO stories will pop up. It has been my regular experience in giving talks about UFOs in various parts of the country that 10 to 20 percent of my listeners will confess by a show of hands to having some sort of a UFO experience. Yet, when I ask the same people how many of them reported their sighting to the police or to the Air Force, only a small percent had.

I am entirely convinced that a large reservoir of unreported UFO cases exists - the sightings have not been reported largely out of a fear of ridicule. A Gallup poll released in 1973 suggests that as many as 15 million Americans may have seen UFOs and that 51 percent of the persons polled believe UFOs are "real." Whatever UFOs eventually prove to be - visitors from outer space or what have you - 15 million people is a number to be reckoned with - and the police are the first in line to have to do the reckoning!

It is well, then, to be prepared to handle an excited – sometimes even hysterical – voice at the other end of the line reporting a UFO. The basic facts that the center needs to know are those listed on the UFO CENTRAL form. The most important of those are:

A. Was an object seen nearby, on the land or close above it?

B. Were there any physical disturbances or effects?

C. What was the duration of the UFO experience?

D. How many witnesses were there to the event?

As soon as these basic points are noted, the caller should be advised that his report will be referred to the center and that he may be contacted by persons from the center. Do not give the caller the toll-free number. The operators are instructed not to accept calls from private individuals.

At this point, providing, of course. there is no violation of law apparent, the responsibility of the law enforcement agency has been discharged - as far as the UFO report is concerned. There is one great exception: In the event that the caller states an object has landed, and especially if damage to property or danger to life is indicated, police action is obviously called for. In such cases, it is important for scientific and public safety purposes that the affected area be cordoned off and protected from the public until qualified investigators arrive.

The data gathering function of the center is only one aspect of its work. Study and analysis of UFO reports are its prime aims. And primary in this is the laboratory study of those "close encounter" cases in which associated physical effects are alleged to have occurred: damage to crops, property, trees, ground or persons. or material said to have come from the UFO is found. Medical examination of persons reported temporarily blinded or paralyzed is also sponsored by the center. Likewise, when the physical effect takes the form of interference with electronic circuits, automobile ignitions, and electrical systems, the center attempts to study the equipment affected and the manner in which It was affected.

Pattern studies involving statistical analysis of type of UFO occurrences, their frequency, the geographic and time distribution, and the numbers and distribution of witness reporting them, are made; likewise similar studies of types, training, and community status of witnesses are important.

To those not familiar with the UFO phenomenon and the type of reports that continue to be made by responsible persons, here is a quick rundown of terminology:

Close encounters. These are sightings of UFO events reported seen at close range - a few hundred feet generally. For convenience, they have been divided into three classes:

First kind. A sighting at close range, but nothing tangible happens.

Second kind. Something tangible does happen, for example, electrical circuits can be severely affected; marks can be left on the ground; persons can be temporarily paralyzed or blinded, and skin burns can occur; plants, trees, and crops can be damaged, and so forth.

Third kind. Like the first and second kinds, except that living or robot-type creatures (humanoids, "ufonauts," occupants) are reported. For a fuller treatment, see Hynek, "The UFO Experience."

Non-close encounters.

Radar returns. The most significant and interesting cases are those in which there are simultaneous radar and visual observations, as when an aircraft is involved in a visual sighting and the control tower confirms the sighting on radar.

Nocturnal lights. Lights seen in the night sky whose movements, behavior, and appearance cannot be simply explained as aircraft, meteors, satellites, stars, and so forth.

Daylight discs. These are daytime sightings and are generally described as oval, metallic discs, or more frequently, as "'two saucers, one overturned on the other." They are described as capable of hovering a few feet off he ground or water, and able to take off, generally at a high angle, with enormous acceleration, disappearing in a matter of seconds. A faint humming sound is frequently reported. The authenticity of photographs of daylight discs depends, of course, on the integrity of the photographer. It would seem, however, that not all the many photographs examined by the center are fakes.


Finally, there are many misconceptions about the UFO phenomenon held generally by those who have never examined the data. The first of these is, of course, that UFO reports are made mainly by crackpots. The facts are quite otherwise. Clearly, police officers, commercial and military pilots, air traffic controllers, scientists, and school teachers are not in this category. Experience definitely shows that the best reports, those with the greatest information content, come from technically trained, professional people, especially law enforcement personnel.

UFO's continue to concern an increasing number of people.

A second popular misconception is that even if reporters of UFOs are not "off their rockers," they have greatly overstimulated imaginations. The reports themselves argue strongly against this. For the reports do not range over a broad spectrum. There are virtually no reports of unidentified sailing objects, or of UFOs with wings or wheels, and there are no reports of flying pink elephants (FPEs!) or of the Empire State Building being seen upside down in Pittsburgh. Overheated imaginations should certainly generate a far wider range of reports than that of the typical UFO reports we do receive. Granted, although the unexplained reports we do get are truly incredible, they almost always fall into the distinct patterns mentioned above. Pure imagination should produce, by definition, all sorts of things - but concerning UFOs, it does not.

UFOs have been called "incredible tales from credible persons" and that is just what they are. So incredible (from our present technological standpoint) that it has been very tempting for all of us, including scientists, to dismiss such reports out of hand. Yet, it is absolutely incontrovertible that our most puzzling reports come from reliable, often highly trained witnesses!

Lastly, a third misconception is that people "see what they wish to see," that is, that they are victims of their own desire to see a UFO. Once again, experience denies this. Time and again, the witnesses try first to explain their sighting to themselves. "At first we thought it was a balloon (or an aircraft, or an accident on the road, and so forth) but then we realized it just couldn't be" is a statement I have heard many, many times.

So then, something is happening which, in our ignorance, we call UFOs, or the UFO phenomenon. It is something that continues to concern an increasing number of people as the Gallup Poll clearly indicates. In 1966, the Gallup Poll suggested that 5 million Americans may have witnessed UFOs; in 1973, the number had increased to 15 million. Because many agencies advise callers to report to their local police, the UFO phenomenon has also become a problem for law enforcement. And finally, in the last several years particularly, law enforcement officers themselves have been primary UFO witnesses. Close cooperation of law enforcement with the Center for UFO Studies can help its solve a most perplexing modern mystery.


[1] John Fuller, "Incident at Exeter," Putnam (1966)

[2] J. Allen Hynek, "The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry"' Regnery (1972), Ballantine (1974).

[3] Reported to UFO CENTRAL.

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin              February 1975           Pages 16 - 20         fbi logo small.gif (320 bytes) 


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