| Crime Scene Searching Essay
Crime scene search is the investigative and operational activities intended to examine the place of crime in order to establish what had happened and identify the responsible person. The discovered traces and other evidences might help to draw the conclusions find out relative mechanism and circumstances of the case.
Thus, the quality of the inspection procedure can directly influence the course of the investigation since the information obtained at the crime scene may be of evidentiary natural. The main reason for conducting the survey is a disclosure of a crime. The investigator must find out what was an assault, when and where the criminal act was committed. He has to clear up the purpose, motive of the crime and the person of the offender. In addition, it is necessary to establish the nature and extent of the damage, as well as the causes and conditions that contributed to the crime. The crime scene is the area where the crime was committed or if any signs of offense were discovered. However, the pieces of evidence can be found beyond the crime scene, as well. Consequently, successful investigation requires both thorough indoor and outdoor inspection.
Arrival to the crime location must be done as soon as possible. The first step, which the police authorities should do on arrival, is to establish a restricted outer perimeter by using a rope or a barrier for keeping onlookers away from the indicated area. Police barricades and guards are to help with securing the scene, as well. The manner of examination and subsequent search of the crime scene should be done carefully and methodically. Law enforcement officers should be the first coming to the crime scene and must start the observing process with a great care, in order to keep all evidence in its original and untouched state.
The crime scene investigators have to ascertain the proceedings of a search process before collecting the evidence. An operation plan presenting an orderly and methodic approach of discovering and collecting evidence should be developed in the beginning of an investigating process. Its purpose is to define the resources, equipment and assistance required for the process. The initial steps in the crime scene investigation can be regarded as a Scene Recognition stage. The other equally important moment of an organized approach for the location search is the Scene Documentation. Its function is to present consistent images of the crime scene through an application of written notes and reports, videography, photographs and sketching. The report should contain only the facts given in a chronological order, excluding any analysis or conclusion. The searching team should take the photographs before anything is moved, handled or initiated into the scene. The pictures will assist in the analysis process since they serve as a visual record of the scene and the detected evidentiary items. Sketching a crime scene depicts the position and relationship of items. The advantage of a sketch is in its covering ability for both the entire scene and its particular aspects. The sketch artist may point out the height of the doorframe, the size of the room, the distances between some objects, or the diameter of the hole left with a bullet.
Along with Scene Recognition and Scene Documentation stages, the recovery step of the crime scene searching, called the Evidence Collection, which provides the law enforcement investigation with the necessary information. Evidence Retrieval occurs with the help of specific methods, techniques and procedures. What is considered to be evidence? The kinds of evidence may include: trace evidence (broken glass, unknown chemicals, drugs, and paint residue), impressions (footwear, fingertips), body fluids (blood, vomit,), hair and fibres, documents (suicide note, diaries), weapons, and firearms evidence (knives, guns, bullet holes). The process of searching the crime scene evidence is tedious and time-consuming. It may involve many people from different organizations. Moreover, police officers, the district attorney, crime investigators, the medical examiner, specialists and detectives should be present at the crime scene. However, for making the final decision and finding the problem resolution only one person should be in charge.
The process of gathering evidence has its own organization. First, the authorized team must initiate a preliminary survey of the scene and recognize special problem areas. Cautiously walking through the search area, the investigator has to identify and protect transient physical evidence. The required actions of a prior survey include taking preliminary photographs, selecting a narrative technique (written, audio, or video), and developing a general theory of the crime. The investigators begin a detailed search after conducting the preliminary survey.
The search for physical evidence signifies recognition of the items as pieces of evidence and their proper collecting. Detailed survey includes some search methods to be applied.
a) Strip or lane search pattern is usually used for covering large or open areas. During such investigation a search personnel will line up shoulder to shoulder; usually an arms distance away from each other and move slowly along examining parallel strips of terrain. Moving forward together the team tries to avoid missing areas.
b) Grid search method is suitable for indoors and outdoors searching. It is the most thorough seeking technique. Checking the area primarily from east to west and then from south to north, provides a double check of the inspected area.
c) Spiral or circular search method may be used for outdoor or underwater exploration. It is conducted by a single searcher who moves either from outermost boundary towards the centre or the centremost to outward.
d) If the scene is divided into smaller sectors that are assigned for doing a thorough search by team members, we are dealing with zone or sector search method.
Searching team should remember that crime scenes are three-dimensional and, therefore, it is required to look up. If any item comes into view, the investigator must immediately preserve it, tag and log it for a crime record. The forensics will be provided with the accurate information received in a Documentation stage owing to a visual record of the process. This stage occurs during a second walk-through of the scene. The equipment and devices applied during the scene investigation include digital and film cameras, various lenses, flashes, filters, a tripod, a sketchpad, graph paper, measuring tape, rulers and a notepad. All these are the techniques of a documenting phase. While searching the scene, the personnel and the person in charge have to take into account a lot of details: if there are any signs of forced entry, if there is anything out of place or if there are any tire marks in the area around the building. Thus, the investigator must be able to recognize what should be present at a scene but is not (victim’s vehicle/wallet) and what is out of place and might have been left by the assailant.
After the main stages of a search, the final survey should be conducted. Its mission is to review all aspects of the process. The personnel should discuss the search. The final photo of the scene is supposed to show the final condition of the latter. In this stage, the investigating team has to ensure that all evidence is found, and all documentation is correct and complete. Documented in a quality manner results of crime scene search, help to reconstruct the events and, therewith, provide further background information for making a successful conclusion of the case.
To conclude, it is worth emphasizing that all items that are considered as evidence are of great importance for a case solving. Consequently, the process of crime scene search should be organized properly and accurately. Cases can remain unexposed if the officer or investigator conducting a search accepts some pieces of evidence as inconsiderable and fails to collect and preserve them. Thus, the personnel engaged into the process should be well informed about the search rules of the crime scene.
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