To solve crime and bring those guilty to justice, criminal investigations must have factual documentation from those that first respond to the scene of a crime. There are different types of reports used to document facts and circumstances surrounding the crime. Field notes are a form of documentation used by police officers while they work in the field. Field Notes are a short, hand written record made by police officers from the initial arrival at the scene until the investigation is completed. (www.mcgraw-hill.com) Because the investigation begins as soon as an officer arrives on the scene, it’s important that the officer begins his or her note taking at the same time. (Lyman, M pg. 34) Important details may fade from an officer’s memory if not written down right away, so taking notes at the inception of investigation is important. Field notes can also help a police officer recall a crime scene prior to court testimony at a later date. An ideal way for an officer to take field notes is for the officer to begin with initial assignment then continue through a consistent flow of events to the conclusion of the investigation, however, most notes are written as information is obtained. (Lyman, M. pg. 35) Field notes are an important part of the investigation because they are used to write the incident report. (www.mcgraw-hill.com) Field notes will represent the integrity of the final Incident/Offence report so specifics are important. Some necessary topics are as follows: 1.
Date, time , location – this information as well as who the assignment came from should be well recorded in the notes. Exact time of arrival, lighting and weather conditions, additional officers and persons at the scene should also be mentioned. 2.
Description of victim – Identifiers of the victim should be listed; name, race, age, social security number, height, weight, eye & hair color, etc… Other identifiers like tattoos and scars should also be listed. 3.
References: Lyman, Michael D. Criminal Investigation The Art & Science. Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
McGraw Hill. Online Learning Center – Field Notes & Investigative Reporting.
Retrieved 14 June, 2013 from: http://highered.mcgrawhill.com/sites/0072564938/student_view0/chapter5/chapter_outline.html
Palmiotto, Michael J. Criminal Investigation, Fourth Edition. Retrieved 14 June, 2013 from: http://books.google.com/books?id=BRuelUtvHxcC&pg=PA79&lpg=PA79&dq=criminal+investigation,+what+are+field+notes?&source=bl&ots=KjT3P8O3zK&sig=hKtPBQWydmzq5QDvxxPz-ILOGws&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1S27UdbjCZS-9gTG9IDgDg&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=criminal%20investigation%2C%20what%20are%20field%20notes%3F&f=false
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