Crime Scene Investigation

 

Uniformed officers are normally the first police officers on the scene. It’s up to these front-line cops to take charge, calm the chaos, and make things safe for the arriving investigators. Sometimes, crime scenes are large and complicated; therefore, it may be necessary to set up a command post – a central location for coordinating police activities.

Many police departments use mobile command centers, such as converted motor homes and travel trailers. Some patrol supervisors drive vehicles designed to quickly transform into a fully functional command post.

This Oregon police sergeant drives a marked SUV that also serves as a command post during emergencies and crime scene investigations.

Crime Scene Investigation facts:

Patrol officers often assist police investigators with the recovery and collection of evidence.

Not all crime scene investigators are sworn police officers. Many police departments employ specially trained civilian crime scene investigators/technicians. These crime scene investigators do not:

(As seen on TV)

arrest criminals

interrogate or question suspects

carry weapons

participate in, or conduct autopsies

drive Hummers

All police officers are trained to properly collect and preserve evidence. Sometimes, detectives are unavailable; therefore, uniformed officers assume the duty of investigating the crime.

 

detective and patrol officer bagging a gun at a crime scene

Ohio police sergeant assists a detective with the collection of a firearm.

Crime scenes may be as small as a single room and they can be as large as the site of the entire area encompassing the collapsed World Trade Center towers.

The police are in charge of crime scenes. Coroners and medical examiners are in charge of the bodies of murder victims.

Next – Crime Scene Evidence

 

Crime Scene Investigation 2

 

 

Okay, our alert patrol officers have determined that they do indeed have a crime scene, and they’ve called in the detectives—us. Before we get started with our investigation, let’s be sure we’re all on the same page.

Everyone knows the difference between a murder and a homicide, right? How about the difference between a crime scene and the scene of the crime? You knew they weren’t the same, right?

First of all, let’s talk about homicide. Homicide is the killing of one person by another. A homicide can be ruled legal if the act was committed in self defense or in the defense of another. Even state executions are homicides.

Homicide is the act of one person killing another.

Murder is a homicide, but…

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The scene of a crime is the actual location where a crime was committed—where the killer pulled the trigger, or the spot from where the car was stolen.

A crime scene is any location where evidence of a crime can be found. For example, a suspect robs a bank at gunpoint. The bank is the scene of the crime because that’s where the crime took place. It’s also a crime scene because evidence—fingerprints, video evidence, etc.—can be recovered there.

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Scene of the crime. The place where the crime took place.

The robber drives three blocks away and tosses his mask and gun into a dumpster. The dumpster and surrounding area are now a crime scene because evidence of the robbery can be recovered from the area.

CSI

 

Most crime-scene investigations begin with a 911 call to police. A communcations officer, or dispatcher, receives the call and obtains as much information about the crime as possible, such as the caller’s name and address, weapons involved, number of victims, and the suspect’s name and description.

The dispatcher relays the information to the next available uniformed patrol officer. Patrol officers are normally the first officers to arrive on the scene of a crime.

The first officer who arrives is normally in charge of a crime scene until she is relieved of that duty by a superior officer or a detective.

Patrol officers must quickly assess a scene and determine if they should call for additional back-up, EMS, detectives, supervisors, medical examiner, crime scene technicians, and other necessary personnel. They also give emergency first aid, if needed.

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Patrol officer responds to emergency call.

When a patrol officer approaches a crime scene, he does so with caution. He must be certain there are no hidden dangers, such as a concealed suspect, no dangerous gases or chemicals, downed power lines,  and booby traps. Booby traps are quite common with houses and areas occupied by drug dealers.

Once officers determine that all is safe and that a crime has indeed occurred, they call for investigators. Patrol officers must secure the crime scene and protect evidence by keeping everyone outside until investigators arrive. Patrol officers are also responsible for obtaining the initial information – name, address, phone numbers – from witnesses.

A crime scene is secured until investigators arrive.

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Detectives normally take charge of all major investigations.

Tomorrow – Crime Scene Investigation – Part 2.

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Traffic stop: check your knowledge

 

During a traffic stop, officers go through almost every emotion imaginable, from the moment they activate their blue lights until the stop has reached its end. They never know what to expect. Is the driver wanted for a crime? Is he carrying dangerous drugs or other contraband? Is he armed? The list goes on.

Police academy instructors teach recruits how to be safe. They set up mock exercises simulating every possible scenario that officers could encounter once they hit the streets.  New officers are taught to do certain things when making traffic stops. The officer in the picture above has positioned her patrol car on an angle to the roadway. She has her left hand on the trunk of the car. She’s looking ahead at the passing car while keeping the driver in her line of vision. She’s standing a certain way. Actually, it appears that she’s doing everything right. Good for her because she had no idea a photographer was behind her. We were pretty sneaky.

Now it’s time to put the shoe on the other foot.  I’m asking each of you to tell me why the officer has decided to do the things she’s done. Remember, she wants to go home at the end of her shift.