Our primary job as crime scene investigators is always the same: to tie a suspect to the scene. The way to accomplish this goal is to collect as much evidence as possible from the scene and the suspect.
The fundamental goal of documenting bloodstain patterns is to accurately depict the patterns as you found them. Your notes should contain a detailed description of the physical characteristics of the patterns including size, distribution, location, shape, and physical features.
When photographing a scene, keep in mind that you are trying to provide a permanent record of the scene and the evidence collected. This record will assist anyone who is not at the scene—from detectives and prosecutors to members of the jury, if the case goes to trial.
Finding the right mobile crime scene vehicle for your agency is a complicated task. It involves looking carefully at your cases, your expertise, and your budget. Once you figure out the right way to balance the need for storage space and the need for work space, then you can decide what vehicle or combination of vehicles will help you get the job done.
Forensic archeological investigations are integral to a diverse array of situational contexts, but the singular objective these various operations accomplish is one of recovery and resolution—recovery of the physical evidence and eventual resolution of the legal issues.
No matter the type of scene, you must carefully mark and record every piece of evidence you find. This may seem pretty straightforward, but it becomes more complicated when you have multiple crime scenes or incidents. Taking the time to develop a clear system that is easy to use will be well worth the effort.
The yellow tape can't stay up forever, and information can disappear long before a case is solved. A 3D overview map is a permanent recording of everything in the crime scene, and allows investigators to go back in time long after the yellow tape disappears.
Once you have identified DNA evidence, you need to properly collect it and package it. Remember that DNA can be easily contaminated or damaged.
In order to be worthwhile, the crime scene checklist needs to be comprehensive yet easy to use. It should cover everything from the time you’re called to the scene to the time the scene is released.
While you should always proceed with caution at any crime scene, arson scenes may be especially hazardous because of the possible presence of toxic fumes, smoke, and dangerous debris.
Impression evidence includes footprints, tire tracks, and tool marks. If impression evidence is present, you must do everything possible to preserve it.
Being consistent can greatly increase your level of professionalism. Establish a system for documenting, marking, and recording evidence, and then use this system every time.
Every CSI needs a good crime scene kit. Take the time to build your own kit. Yes, it will involve more effort on your part, but you’ll save a lot of money and end up with only the things you really need.
Pay attention to shoes at a crime scene—both yours and those around you.
Written documentation is essential when you’re learning something new, but being able to see a particular process and technique can really pull it all together.
You can make your job more manageable by paying attention to the fundamentals. One of the most important things you can do is determine the equipment that is essential to your job.
A crime scene is really an accumulation of things that, when taken together and analyzed, tell the story of the crime. Through careful observation, a crime scene will actually "talk to you."
One of your biggest concerns in handling evidence at a crime scene should be safety. Find a way to secure evidence while also protecting yourself and others from dangerous objects.
Although not a legal document per se, reports do end up in court. Therefore, they need to be consistent in their format and grammatically correct. A poorly written report can have adverse effects regarding the testimony of the examiner and shed doubt upon the subsequent results of the examinations.
The “CSI Effect” has made juries everywhere expect a higher level of professionalism. We have to step up to the plate and perform to the best of our abilities. Here are three simple products that can increase your professionalism and are available to you at little or no cost.
As crime scene officers we have the responsibility of protecting the crime scene and its integrity, here are some products you can use to help protect your crime scene.
Combining traditional iodine fuming techniques with digital subtraction in Photoshop provides an effective tool to develop and enhance latent images on visually difficult or distracting backgrounds.
When you’re working with latent prints, the age of the evidence can also be a factor in processing. If you’re not sure of the age of the evidence, you can follow the PINS processing technique.
Optimum sweeping of a crime scene with an ALS requires an experienced operator or some evidence may be missed. With a laser however, any semi-skilled operator can don the goggles and perform the same level of CSI study as a seasoned expert.
Before you do anything with impression evidence, you need to photograph it. If something goes wrong during the processing and you forgot to take photographs, then you’ll be left with nothing.