Investigating a Crime Scene

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Investigating a Crime Scene
Denise Swank
Bryant & Stratton College
Criminal Justice: Research Paper
Mr. Frank Chmarak
December 2011

Investigating a Crime Scene
On TV shows like "CSI," viewers get to watch as investigators find and collect evidence at the scene of a crime, making blood appear as if by magic and swabbing every mouth in the vicinity. Many of us believe we have a pretty good grip on the process, and rumor has it criminals are getting a jump on the good guys by using the tips they pick up from these shows. But does Hollywood get it right? Do crime scene investigators interview suspects and catch the bad guys, or is their job all about collecting physical evidence? In this paper, I’ll examine how a crime scene investigation really takes place. When working a crime scene there are many steps that must take place in order for any investigation to hold up in court. A proper investigation can take hours, but the end result can lead to a conviction of the guilty and justice for victim’s families. The first officer at the crime scene should do everything they can to keep all evidence in its original state. The crime scene must be blocked off immediately to avoid any contamination or loss of evidence. Boundaries should be established for each area of the scene that needs to be secluded. This will include any paths of entry or exits and areas where evidence has been discarded or located. All areas of the crime scene should be blocked off using tape, ropes, or traffic cones. If the crime took place indoors, a single room can be blocked off depending on the place of the crime and where it occurred. Police barricades and guards can help with securing the scene as well. This is a good way to monitor the area to make sure no unwanted people get through and cause loss of evidence. This will include officers that are not involved in the case, neighbors and the family of the victim. Securing the crime scene must be done in a timely manner and all persons entering the scene should be recorded, and times of the entry should be taken as well. Before anyone can enter the scene, the responding officer must first establish a walk way. This is done to ensure that no evidence is being touched and is out of the way before walking into the scene. This will include investigators or medical examiners that need to get to any victims that may be injured. Once the crime scene has been blocked off and secured, the investigators will process the area. At this time a strategy is put into place. This will start the examination of the area and documentation of all evidence at the scene. A walk through of the scene will take place by the lead investigator to establish how the scene was entered and exited at the time that the crime took place. Once the points of entry are established, the investigator will find the center of the scene using the path that the first officer established. A crime scene is three dimensional so that when making their way to the center of the crime scene, evidence will be located. It is the investigators responsibility to photograph and document these items as they are seen. There are many questions that will need to be answered during the investigation such as but not limited to: did this crime involve violence, or are there any hazardous conditions that they should be aware of? The scene should be looked over as if trying to put a puzzle together. Looking around at objects in the crime scene can tell a whole lot as to the time the accident occurred or if objects seem like they are missing. There are two categories a crime scene can fall under; one is a primary crime scene where the crime occurred or a secondary crime scene where evidence was taken to and is now a part of the crime scene. A command center needs to be put into place outside the crime scene. This is where the investigators receive their assignments, store the equipment that will be needed or where they...
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