Crime Scene Basics

When I first got into law enforcement over 11 years ago, it took me a couple of years before I finally "knew" what needed to be done when entering a crime scene.  For instance, when I first became a police officer, I would have just trampled right through a scene not thinking a thing.  But after being in law enforcement for a few years, I started learning things that became second nature.  Granted I was told, we just tend to forget some of these basics.

One example could

be a murder scene. Once you as a police officer believe the bad guy is gone, it becomes a scene that needs to be preserved and secured.  Some things that I've overlooked as a rookie officer is not preserving the path in or out of the scene for example.  These are areas that should be carefully walked around, and looked at thoroughly as to not step on (and destroy of course) a suspect's shoe print.  How many times have we seen 5 police officers for example trample through a scene, not thinking a thing.  I've done it.  I think most people in law enforcement has as well.  But its something to keep in the back of our minds.

Doors and Entry Ways

How many times do we as police officers simply use the door knob to open a door, or push a door open where the suspect likely had placed his hands?  Anytime I have to go through a door, I'll bend my index finger, and use my knuckle to push it open assuring that my finger prints aren't placed on the door.  In addition, I'm using a very small area of finger that won't do as much damage then actually grabbing the door with more of my hand, gloves or not.  If I have to pull it, then I'll reach down toward the bottom and pull it from the inside portion with just one finger (a place where the suspect is not likely to have touched).

The Weapon

I'm not sure how many times I've seen this.  Law Enforcement Officers will pick up the knife for example, and secure it in their cruiser.  The argument is that they didn't want the suspect, or anyone else for that matter, to take it.  Although a valid argument in some cases, this should never be done unless there is a life-threatening reason for it (i.e. suspect is still near the scene).  When a weapon is found like this, or any other piece of evidence, law enforcement should attempt to guard it immediately (if possible), and preserve it.  This means not to move it, don't touch it, nothing.  Its extremely important that police officers obtain photos of the scene exactly as it lay so that the prosecutor can use it in court.  Otherwise police officers and prosecutors can, and almost likely will be accused of tampering with the evidence, planting evidence, etc.

Looking for Clues

As a police officer, you need to look at things that might not be so obvious.  For example, blood spatters on walls, shell casings, broken items, etc. to see if these things are related to the crime.  Visually looking at the scene and trying to picture what could have happened can also lead to more clues.  For instance, "This looks like an Armed Robbery.  The back door is kicked in, the woman's purse is laying on the floor empty..." etc.  Coming up with a theory can lead you out the back door for example to a trash can, that upon opening, you may find another weapon.  The point is, trying to figure out what actually happened can lead you to more clues.  Its just so important to get all of the evidence to make a successful case.

I'll end with this:  Although these are just a few points, its very important to remember some of these absolute basics in law enforcement.  Whether you're a rookie police officer, a veteran law enforcement officer, or preparing to become a police officer, these are absolute essentials that should not be overlooked and taken seriously.

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