Actionstaken at the outset of an investigation at a crime scene depicts thedirection a given case takes in determination of the facts about acrime and plays a pivotal role in the resolution of the case. Acareful and thorough investigation is a very crucial aspect inensuring potential physical evidence is not destroyed or tarnished atthe scene or during the investigation. The following are some of thecrucial steps that a crime scene investigation process.
CrimeScene Investigation Process
Itis very important for the initial officers who arrive at the scene tobe observant and ensure that they take a mitigation approach toshield any uncertainties that may distort evidence at the scene. Itis at this stage that officers are required to take safetyprocedures the control of any physical threats will shield andensure safety of other present parties. Emergency care ought to begiven by the first responders it culminates guiding, assisting andinstructing medical personnel during the care and removal of injuredpersons (Ruhl, 2012). Ensure that persons at the scene are securedand controlled this will limit the number of persons who enter thecrime scene. It acts as an essential approach in maintaining sceneintegrity, safeguarding evidence and minimization of contamination.
Theteam has to ensure establishing a boundary, this is critical since itenables scene control and the integrity of the evidence to becollected. First responders are then expected to turn over the sceneto parties in charge of the investigation. At this stage scenebriefing is undertaken as the only opportunity for the next incommand to obtain any substantial information of the crime scenebefore a thorough investigation of carried out. The initialresponding officers at the crime scene must come up with anauthentic, concise documentation of all the actions, observations. Itis this documentation that shall shoulder all the vital undertakingsof the investigation (Marshall, 2013).
Preliminarydocumentation and evaluation of the scene
Investigatorsought to conduct an assessment to determine the type of incident tobe investigated by analyzing the evidence at the scene. Sceneassessment allows for the development of a plan which will correlateto the coordinated identification, collection and preservation of thephysical evidence and the witnesses. It also provides a platform forthe exchange of information among law enforcement personnel and thedevelopment of investigative strategies. It is also at this stagethat a scene walk is undertaken. A scene walk provides theinvestigators in charge with an overview of the entire scene. Itprovides the first opportunity to identify existing evidence anddetermine the investigative procedures. Written and photographicdocumentation records the initial scene and provides permanentrecords that can be retrieved when needed (`Forensic Evidence and`, 2013).
Thereare five main approaches adopted at this stage 1) determination ofthe team of investigators this is attained by taking intoconsideration the complexity and type of incident. The sceneassessment determines the number of personnel and howresponsibilities will be assigned to each member. 2) Contaminationcontrol is a very essential aspect in maintaining the safety ofpersonnel and the integrity of the evidence at the scene.Minimization of contamination by being safe, clean and careful inorder to ensure the welfare of personnel and integrity of theevidence is critical. 3) An assessment of the scene dictates whatkind of documentation is needed. A well-documented scene ensures theintegrity of the investigation and provides a permanent record forfuture evaluations of evidence that may be required. 4)Prioritization of the evidence is to be carried out to prevent loss,destruction or contamination of evidence at the scene. Prioritizationis an approach that provides for the timely and methodicalpreservation and collection of evidence at the scene. 5) Physicalhandling of evidence is a crucial aspect in any investigation, thus,proper collection, preservation, packaging, transportation andsubmission of evidence is crucial (`Forensic Evidence and Crime SceneInvestigation`, 2013).
Completionand recording of the crime scene investigation
Ina bid to ensure proper completion and recording of the investigationthe following aspects culminate an important approach. 1)Establishing a crime scene debriefing team that enables lawenforcement personnel and other responders to share importantinformation in regard to particular scenes. This provides a platformfor input follow up investigation, special assistance requests andpost scene responsibilities (Edwards, 2014). This is the bestopportunity for law enforcement personnel and other responders toensure that the crime scene investigation is best completed.
Thedebriefing team is in a better position to assess any missingcomponents that may be crucial in carrying out an investigation inregard to the scene under scrutiny. 2) A final survey of the crimescene is to be completed to ensure that the evidence is collected andthe scene has been processed prior to release. Conducting a scenewalk ensures that no evidence is left behind uncollected, it alsomaintains safety for the public by ensuring that no dangerousmaterials are left behind. 3) The team in charge has to carry out adocumentation of the crime scene. This will help ensure that reportsand other documentations in regard to the crime scene are compiledinto a case file and allow for an independent review of the workcarried out (Edwards, 2014). Documentation is the most critical stageof any crime scene, scene it depicts whether a strong case exists.
Challengesfaced and common errors
Firstresponders face numerous challenges on first arrival at the crimescene. One of the most crucial challenges that face these officers islack of clear information on what the scene culminates. On mostoccasions the first responders are exposed to dangerous chemicals ordangerous materials that may harm their health. The first respondersnormally are not well informed on the activities happening at acertain crime scene, it is the first responders who give out relevantinformation to the other responding units who come well versed andinformed on the situation. Another challenge faced by the firstresponders is the difficulty of containing a crime scene. The firstresponders are expected to protect and ensure that the scene issecure for other responding units however this proves cumbersome(Kellerman, 2014). Take an example of two police officers in ashoot-out with five bandits. It will take a lot of muscle for the twopolice men to hold the bandits until help arrives.
Lackof administrative policies dealing with specialized operations likecrime scenes also weigh down first responders. This is because theydo not encompass a clear guideline on how to secure the scene. Thebiggest problem so far is too many non-essential personnel at thescene who may destroy or tarnish any evidence. The bulk of these manypersonnel at the crime scene are police officers, it is important toremove all police officers and allow detectives to collect theevidence at the scene. There are numerous mistakes that occur on asingle crime scene however some of the key errors identified includethe failure to apply the 5-priorities at a crime scene. The fivepriorities include: to preserve life, preserve the scene, secureevidence, identify the victim and witnesses and identify thesuspect(s). Most officers fail to attain the 5-priorities needed ininvestigation (Kellerman, 2014). Above all, communication mishapsimpair investigations on most scenarios. Failure to adopt a goodcommunication framework is itself a mistake in any investigation.
Investigationsare on most occasions marred by a number of challenges and mistakeshowever it is up to the concerned departments to ensure that mistakesand challenges are adequately mitigated. For instance, the policedepartment would be in a better position if they ensure that theirpersonnel are adequately trained on handling crime scenes. Priorinstances could be critiqued to avoid similar mistakes from happeningin future. Police officers should not keep quiet after committingmistakes in a crime scene as this will only inhibit theinvestigation.
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Kellerman,F. (2014). Murder101.New York: HarperLuxe.
Marshall,E. (2013). Scientific Misconduct: : How toHandle Misconduct. Science,312(5779),1465-1465. doi:10.1126/science.312.5779.1465
Ruhl,G. (2012). (CSI) with Powdery Mildew Fungi.PHI.doi:10.1094/phi-k-2004-0330-02