Crime Scene Investigation
Saint Leo University
First responders landing at the scene are the only individuals to see the crime scene in its most original state. Their actions made toward the start of an investigation at a crime scene represent a crucial part of determining a case. A cautious and thorough investigation is the way to guarantee that potential physical evidence is not corrupted or destroyed or prospective witnesses are not overlooked. The objective of this process is to recognize and save physical evidence that will produce reliable data to help in the investigation. Crime scene investigators must follow a set of principles and procedures for ensuring that all physical evidence is discovered and investigated. This paper will explain how crime scene investigators will properly use the physical evidence and documentation of a crime scene to bring a perpetrator to arrest. This paper will also briefly describe the four unique tasks of documentation that are note taking, videography, photography, and sketching.
Keywords: Crime scene investigation, documentation, evidence collection, photography, videography, sketching
Crime Scene Investigation
A crime scene investigation is an examination of a crime scene for any signs of evidence that may lead police to a suspect. The crime scene has a story to tell and the evidence retells the story with the accurate approach to deal with examining the crime scene. Investigating a crime scene requires a slow and patient process, however the system requires perfect care additionally has a tendency to uncover essential pieces of information to the method, motive and suspect of the crime. Crime scene investigators join law enforcement strategies with scientific knowledge in their work, and the way investigators carry out their jobs has a major impact in whether the police catch a suspect.
The evidence from the scene of the crime is therefore important since it serves as the sole way to bring the perpetrator of a given crime to arrest. This imposes the need to ensure that the crime scene investigation process is done in a secure and very safe way to avoid contaminating or ruining the evidence was found at the scene. It is the role of the criminal justice system to use the evidence and bring the criminal into persecution. Crime scene investigation is the starting point for the successful use of physical evidence by the forensic laboratory and the criminal investigation. Crime scene investigators must follow a set of principles and procedures for ensuring that all physical evidence is discovered and investigated. The basic crime scene procedures are physical evidence recognition, documentation, proper evidence collection, packaging, and preservation (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014).
Physical Evidence Recognition
Evidence is the most important part in identification of a criminal. The purpose of the scene recognition is to pick up an understanding of what this specific investigation will involve and build up a deliberate approach to deal with finding and collecting evidence. The crime scene investigator has to make sure that all physical evidence is located and collected in a proper manner (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014). The first step is to define the extent of the crime scene whether it was a homicide, robbery, sexual assault, etc.; and the physical location of the crime scene whether the crime was inside or outside (Layton, 2005). At the scene investigators only gets one chance to perform a through search. The boundaries of scenes may change as the processing continues; the crime expands and changes as the evidence dictates (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014).
Securing the crime scene or the core area where the most obvious parts of the crime scene is crucial because most of the evidence is concentrated. Securing the crime scene involves using barrier tape, official vehicles, and removing all unnecessary personnel from the scene. This helps prevent contamination of the scene with material brought in after the crime has occurred. Once the crime scene is secured the crime scene investigator can do a walk-through. During the walk-through it is essential for the crime scene investigator to be aware of details that will change with time: the weather, any points of entry or exit and paths of travel, answer questions like who, what, when, where, and how, and notify superior officers, or other agencies (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014). Once the CSI has molded a strategy of assault to collect the all of the evidence that could be substantial to this specific crime, the next step is to thoroughly document every element of the scene in a way that makes it possible for individuals who weren’t there to reconstruct it. This is the scene-documentation stage (Layton, 2005).
The goal of crime scene documentation is to make a visual record that will allow the forensics lab and the prosecuting attorney to easily recreate an accurate view of the scene (Layton, 2005). Documentation is the most tedious activity at the scene and requires the investigator to remain organized and precise. The notes should not include any opinions, analysis, or conclusions, just the facts. There are four unique tasks of documentation note taking, videography, photography, and sketching. Every one of the four areas is essential and each method must be utilized when and where needed to give a comprehensive record as possible (James, Nordby, ; Bell, 2014). A general guideline for note taking is to consider the “W’s” (who, what, when, where, and why), in addition to the following:
Notification information: the date the time, method of notification and information received.
Arrival information: the transportation, date and time, personnel present at the scene, and any notifications to be made
Scene description: the weather, location type and condition, major structures, identification of transient and conditional evidence (ashtrays, trash cans, etc.)
Victim description: in most jurisdictions the body should never be moved or disturbed until the medical examiner has given approval. Once given approval, then note the victims position, wounds, clothing, jewelry, or identification
Crime scene team: team members, walk-through information, beginning and ending times, and evidence handling results (James, Nordby, ; Bell, 2014)
A video recording can offer a genuine feel for the map of the crime scene to what extent it takes to get from one room onto the next and how many times they turned a corner are included, for example (Layton, 2005). Once the investigation is further along, it might uncover something that was neglected at the scene because the investigators didn’t know to search for it. During a video walk-through, the crime scene investigators catch the whole crime scene and surrounding areas from each angle and provide a constant audio narrative (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014). The following summarizes the process that should be followed for effective videotaping of crime scenes:
Document the recording by use of a placard that includes the case number, date, time, location, and videographer’s name.
Exclude officers, bystanders, and others at a scene from the video.
Take long-range video to show where the crime occurred, midrange video to show relationships of evidence and other points of interest, and close-up video to show individual items and their characteristics.
Use a sturdy tripod whenever possible to reduce movement while taking video. Take video from angles that result in the best representation of that scene.
When applicable, include the names of those assigned to specific tasks in your notebook.
Record the victim’s viewpoint. Move to a safe location near the victim and record the four compass points viewed away from the victim (Crime Scene Investigation, 2013)
Digital image technology provides the crime scene investigator with powerful tools for catching, analyzing, and storing the record of the crime scene and its physical evidence (James, Nordby, & Bell, 2014). Crime scene investigators take pictures of everything before touching or moving a piece of evidence. The medical examiner won’t touch the body until the crime scene investigator is finished capturing it and the surrounding area (Layton, 2005). The purpose of photography is to give a genuine and accurate record of the crime scene and physical evidence present. Each photo taken at the crime scene must be recorded in a photograph log. The log ought to incorporate the time taken, camera settings utilized, and an indication of the distance to subject, the type of photo taken, and a short description of the picture (James, Nordby, ; Bell, 2014).
In addition to creating a photographic record of the scene, crime scene investigations additionally make sketches to illustrate both the whole scene, which is easier to do in a sketch than in a photograph because a sketch can traverse several rooms and specific parts of the scene that will benefit from exact measurements (Layton, 2005). The goal is to indicate locations of evidence and how each piece of evidence identifies with the rest of the scene. The sketch artist may show details like the height of a doorframe, the exact size of the room, the distance from the window to the door and the width of the hole in the wall over the victim’s body. All crime scene sketches require their own documentation, including a title, a legend for the abbreviations, symbols, numbers, or letters used, a compass designation, the scale used, the documentation block with the case number, offense type, victim name, location, scene descriptor, date and time when the sketch was begun, and the sketcher’s name (James, Nordby, ; Bell, 2014).
Handling a crime scene is extremely extensive and intensive process. Investigators will put in hours, and sometimes days, reporting the crime scene and its condition and gathering all the physical evidence that is present in an attempt to discover what crime was committed and who committed it. It is important for crime scene investigators must follow a set of principles and procedures for ensuring that all physical evidence is discovered and investigated. A cautious and thorough investigation is the way to guarantee that potential physical evidence is not corrupted or destroyed or prospective witnesses are not overlooked.
Crime Scene Investigation. (2013, September). Retrieved from
https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/forensics/Crime-Scene-Investigation.pdf. doi:National Forensic Science Technology Center
James, S. H., Nordby, J. J., ; Bell, S. (2014). Forensic science: An introduction to
scientific and investigative techniques. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor ; Francis Group.
Layton, J. (2005, December 02). How Crime Scene Investigation Works. Retrieved from