Police and Critical Thinking

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As a police officer it is our role to observe, think about, and solve problems objectively and systematically. Police officers attend a variety of scenarios when working as a general duties officers it is our job to discover the truth; this requires the use of critical thinking and the scientific method of investigation to find the truth. When attending a job and conducting an investigation into a crime or offence police must utilise these skills as critical thinking and the scientific method of investigation go hand in hand with one another. In particular, to be able to make effective use of the scientific model, you need to be a critical thinker (Osterburg & Ward 1992 pp 11). Using the Scientific Method of Investigation requires police to identify the problem on arrival, then to form a hypothesis as to what has happened as well as possible suspects and motives. By collecting further data, police can then review their original hypothesis and start to make an evidence based conclusion on the incident at hand. The whole point of police investigations whatever the crime or incident is to arrive at the truth (Miller,L & Connelly,M.1996). There are six steps to the scientific method of investigation. (Becker, RF, 2000, p.7) The six steps are state the problem, create a hypothesis, collect all data, test the hypothesis, continue to collect data and finally arrive at a theory. By adhering to this method it provides framework that best assists police in discovering the truth about what happened in a structural, factual and reliable way. (PPP232 Topic 3) In this essay I will be critiquing the way the police officers have investigated the assault on Mr Lee that took place and how the officers have used both critical thinking and the scientific method of Investigation, to gather all evidence available to find the truth, in an ethical manner. When applying the first stage of the investigation to the scenario the officers attending the scene are approached by the licensee of the Chiefly Hotel. Denise Spence informs Senior Constable Baltrow that a barman who works in her hotel has been assaulted. Previous experience and observations are both factors which aid us in identifying a problem; this is known as ‘inductive reasoning.’ In this case, I believe, both factors come into play for Senior Constable Baltrow. Senior constable Baltrow then begins to question the licensee. During the questioning process a male appears from down the street who seems to be out of breath. This male Gary Rawlings, states to police he has just chased a male who assaulted Dan Lee. It appears Mr Rawlings has a lot of valuable information about the assault. By using Denise and Gary’s evidence the Officer in charge is able to identify that a male has been assaulted and taken to Bathurst hospital. The problem has now been identified and the Officers can use their initial observations and the current information they have gathered to begin to form the hypothesis. “A working hypothesis is like an incomplete puzzle that comes together a piece at a time.” (Becker, 2000. pp. 4). After forming a logical hypothesis that the victim was assaulted by a male, it is now up to the officers to “Collect Further Data”. Whilst collecting data the Officers will be identifying, utilizing and evaluating various sources of information and evidence collected at the scene to help support their hypothesis. Both the statements give evidence to prove the assault took place but police have no information as to why the assault happened. Constable Buchman points out to Senior constable Baltrow that there is CCTV footage available. In collecting data it is also crucial for the police to be able to link all the evidence presented from witness, victim and available evidence from the crime scene. The next step in the investigation is to interpret the data and test the hypothesis. The statements made by the witnesses may change the officer’s hypothesis from ‘was the assault...
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