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Criminal Investigation Process Essay

1595 words - 7 pages

The Criminal Investigation Process is a very important aspect of the criminal justice system in today’s society. The smallest mistake in any investigation can allow a dangerous criminal to walk free. The process sets guidelines for law enforcement officers and forensic investigators to follow when processing a scene, collecting evidence, and reporting their findings. The essential steps for any investigations team to follow are: Determine team composition, control contamination, document the scene, prioritize evidence collection, and collect, preserve, inventory, package, and transport and submit evidence. After all of that is accomplished the team has to get together to debrief about the ...view middle of the document...

The lead investigator also needs to set up security for the scene, assign officers to document people leaving and arriving at the scene, and assign people that are qualified to collect evidence, fingerprints, photographs and sketches. Lastly, the lead investigator needs to keep track of members of the team and their assignments to ensure everything is being done correctly. Having this step completed shortly after arriving at the crime scene allows the investigation process to begin quickly and allows everything to run as efficiently as possible making this step the most important to any investigation.
The next step in the criminal investigation process is to keep the crime scene and any evidence being collected from being contaminated. When a crime scene or evidence is contaminated, it can result in evidence being thrown out of court that could have resulted in a conviction. To keep the scene from being contaminated, the lead investigator has to assign officers to keep out anyone who is not directly involved in processing the scene, and only allow access through specific routes that will not contaminate the scene. The investigation team needs to identify who was first on the scene and possibly collect elimination samples of their footprints, fingerprints, and DNA. The team also needs to have a specific area for trash and another for equipment so that the wrong items do not get thrown away. All tools and equipment need to be sanitized or disposed of between evidence collections and crime scenes to prevent cross contaminating evidence with older evidence. When collecting biological samples, such as saliva or blood, the team should use single use equipment that is disposed of immediately after use. Following these steps keeps evidence from being contaminated and helps the forensics team and lab scientists in finding the correct results from the evidence.
Documenting the scene is critical because it helps investigators go back and be able to see the scene exactly as it was after the crime was committed. Documenting the scene includes photos, video walkthroughs, sketches, measurements, and notes from all members of the investigations team. Before documenting, the team must review the initial assessment of the scene to decide which method of documenting will be the most effective, and most useful to the investigation. Photographing the scene includes photographs of the entire scene using overall shots, medium distance, and close ups of evidence. Then photographs will be taken of each individual piece of evidence, with and without the measurement scale and evidence identifier numbers, also photos of witnesses, the crowd and any vehicles present should be taken. Photos from different perspectives such as witness’s point of view, aerial photos if available, and shots of the area underneath the body after the body is removed from a homicide scene, are also very helpful. Sketches and video tapes are useful to supplement the photographs taken to give...

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