The Steps Involved in a Crime Scene Investigation

July 28, 2020 Natalie Dunlap

A crime scene investigation pertains to the careful gathering of evidence, all of which have been collected from crime scenes. The forensic sciences were borne out of the “exchange principle”, which postulates that criminals cannot escape a crime scene without traces of evidence, all of which can be used to identify them.

In more ways than one, these pieces of evidence are incontrovertible evidence presented at trials. In other words, their value is undeniable, especially since everything collected holds the truth and fate of either party.

Collecting evidence isn’t as simple as picking up things, however. It involves a process, one that needs to be taken with the utmost importance. To learn more about how the police investigate crime, here are the steps to properly handling a crime scene:

Step #1: Secure the Scene

The first responders may have caused a considerable amount of disruption at the scene, but it should otherwise be untouched. Before any investigator steps into the physical structure, all possible entrances and exits must be put into place.

This is where the crime scene tape comes in handy, as it isolates the crime scene from the rest of the outside—this is particularly helpful when they’re dealing with crimes committed outdoors.

Step #2: Conduct a Preliminary Survey

Before interacting with the actual crime scene, an initial survey must be conducted. This could be as simple as walking around to see if anything is apparent, such as damaged doors, questionable ladders, and even open windows.

Articles of clothing and other discarded items may also be identified, but in any case, space will be surveyed accordingly. Statements from survivors and witnesses may also be conducted.

Step #3: Capture the Scene

Capturing the scene is crucial. This includes taking photographs, pouring over every nook and cranny, and a careful collection of evidence. Here’s a breakdown of what needs to be done:

• Photograph the space: The scene will need to be presented at court and having photos on hand also helps investigators assess the space thoroughly. There should be close-up shots and medium ranges, as well as panoramic shots.

• Investigate every inch of the scene: Some crime scenes involve the smallest particles of evidence, such as strands of hair and even teeth. Some crime scenes may need to be vacuumed to collect fibers, as well as any fingerprints or traces of blood that may be present.

• Remember the Chain of Evidence: For items to be considered by the court, the evidence must be properly marked and packaged. Proper containers must be used, and every item must come with clear labels and notes. Anything less than these standards will render evidence useless. To keep up with the times, some agencies make use of police evidence management software, which helps maintain the integrity of various forms of evidence.

Note: The dawn of the digital age has allowed the use of electronic devices, such as mobile phones and computers, to become critical forms of evidence. This type of evidence should still be handled accordingly, however, preferably by trained specialists.

The Upsides of Keeping Track

Crime is rampant—to identify and convict criminals properly, proper evidence management is necessary. Crime investigators take extra time to manage scenes accordingly, identifying even the tiniest forms of evidence.

For crimes that take lives, constant vigilance and thorough investigations are crucial. As long as processes are regarded with the utmost importance, justice will continue to prevail.

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