Crime scene investigation has got to be the most exciting, if not glamorized, part of policing – after all, countless movies and TV shows have been made inspired by it. In real life, it entails stringent measure and attention to detail to control the crime scene ensuring all evidence and elements stay intact.
To walk us through the detail-oriented process of crime scene investigation are this course’s instructors, Michael Delaney and Gregory McDonald. Mike is a retired homicide investigator with more than 28 years in the law enforcement field with an established track record of success in solving complex crimes. Greg is a sergeant with the George County (Maryland) Police Department, which he’s been serving in the past 28 years. He’s held various roles including investigative supervisor and homicide detective.
On this webinar, Greg and Mike goes through the basic principles associated with crime scene investigation from a patrol officers point of view. Some of the areas they delved into include:
- Crime scene basics: its definition, classification, and types.
- A step-by-step look into responding to crime scenes that considers:
- The nature of the call whether it is routine or priority, and which types of calls are considered as such.
- Safety as the foremost guideline when responding to prevent from accidents that require deploying additional units.
- The significance of constant communication between the responding officer and dispatch.
- Priorities in the crime scene that highlights:
- Safety where the officer approaching the scene must scan for visual, auditory and olfactory cues that determine whether the location is dangerous or safe.
- Prompt coordination with dispatch if anything unusual, suspicious or dangerous is detected.
- Rendering immediate medical attention to surviving victims or communicating the need for emergency medical personnel.
- Capturing statements from injured victims particularly dying declarations.
- Preserving evidence in its original state by documenting it through notes, photo/video and/or communication with the dispatcher and securing the area with crime scene tape or other officers.
- Identifying and separating witnesses such that interviews may be conducted individually.
- Broadcasting lookout information to the dispatcher related to the crime.
- Determining the suspect’s entry and exit paths and ensuring that these areas will not be contaminated and request canine units to conduct a track.
- Providing a safe path for authorized personnel to enter the crime scene.
- Methods to secure a crime scene that may employ crime scene tape, vehicles and officers in position, or blocking off an area or a building.
- Dealing with family members of individuals involved in the crime and keeping them from contaminating the scene.
- Standard operating procedures when collecting and handling physical evidence at a crime scene including weapons, shell casings, blood, and electronic devices, as well as preserving and protecting them from weather damage.
- Preventing crime scene contamination at all costs prior handoff to the investigators and the common culprit of crime scene contamination.
- Proper note taking and documentation, the various means to document elements of the crime scene, transmitting the information to dispatch for entering to CAD, and the importance of maintaining a crime scene entry log sheet.
- Protocols when relinquishing authority of the crime scene that includes briefing between the officer and the investigator, walk through items of evidentiary value, and submitting notes and written statement.
- Other tasks that the officer may assist with after relinquishing authority to the investigators.
- During the Q&A, Mike and Greg clarified inquiries from the course participants on:
- Using body-worn cameras to record conditions of the crime scene for both the officer and the forensic technicians.
- Capturing dying declarations.
- Using the officers’ personal cellphones to take photos, videos or record audio notes.
- Officers asking questions to and capturing statements from the suspect.
- Working with multiple crime scenes.
- How officers’ documented photos, videos, and notes are discoverable and may be used in trial.
- Getting a witness to make a written statement.
Some of the course presentation objects that will be covered are:
- Safe response to a crime scene
- Types and classifications of a crime scene
- Crime scene priorities
- Note taking and documentation
- Relinquishing authority of the crime scene.
- “Great Webinar. Sometimes it’s hard to get good quality training and then get officers to that training. Webinars provide that solution. Thank you for providing these types of training.” — Isaac
- “The review of things to do and not do was a good reminder. Also, I thought the discussion surrounding new technologies (i.e. body cams) was thought-provoking.” — Lusia
- “How other larger agencies handle cases was informational to me.” — Michael