Today’s high-tech world greatly increases our ability to put the “bad guys” in jail. But technology only takes you so far. As crime scene officers, we have to expand the role we play in order to take full advantage of the technology out there. In many cases, this means increasing our training in more areas so that we are ready for whatever challenges we face in the field—that’s why in the title of this article I refer to the crime scene officer as the Forensic Crime Scene Officer to emphasize this new level of responsibility.
To begin with, a crime scene officer must first know the capabilities of the lab. When you have this knowledge, you understand what type of evidence to look for and what type of evidence you need to collect. And you also know when you need to call in other experts. Remember, you don’t want to lose a case because you’re too proud to ask for help. This is a mistake I’ve seen too often; don’t let it happen to you. Also note that the more equipment you have with you, the more you will expand your ability at the scene to locate the evidence.
Whenever you’re at a scene, collect as much forensic evidence as possible. Often you won’t know which piece of evidence will be the key until you have all the pieces. Then, bingo, you find the right one, it hits, and you make your case. Also, if you don’t properly identify, collect, and document the evidence from the scene, the people back in the lab won’t have anything to work with. Depending on the scene, look for things like hair, blood, semen, fibers, paint chips, pieces of paper, soil samples, tree seeds, broken glass, etc. These small items can be crucial to DNA and other microscopic examinations.
In addition to trace evidence, you should also look for evidence that you will need to cast. These include tool marks, footprints, and tire tracks.When you find this type of evidence, you need to photograph it and then be prepared to make castings. Again, this evidence can prove invaluable for your case, so it is essential that you know how to deal with it at the scene.