Investigating the Crime Scene
OK. You've started your thriller. Murdered off a character. The police are on their way. Now what?
Readers demand accuracy. Feed them the wrong information and they’ll let you know you've made a mistake. So, to the best of your ability, you’d better know who does what, and what happens, at the crime scene if you are going to write about one.
Sherlock Holmes said: “Whenever you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In other words the truth is present at every crime scene. And if it’s your character’s job to find it, make sure he’s doing his job correctly.
Keep in mind that precincts vary in their allotment of duties. Not all houses have a large enough staff to divvy procedures out. In a small town, the local sheriff may do it all; whereas in a larger precinct, the Patrol division, Identification section, Scene of the Crimes officer, and detective will likely all be called in to investigate.
The following is the procedure used at a crime scene, in a homicide case, by a large precinct.
The primary responsibility, of those people involved, is the isolation and protection of the crime scene. This is very important. Any discrepancy, any contamination of evidence jeopardizes the case.
If this is an outdoor crime scene, conduct all examinations as soon as possible due to weather and light changes.
The patrol division usually gets the initial call and goes to the scene to determine the situation.
Upon arrival the first officer at the scene should preserve its integrity until the patrol division supervisor can arrive.
Responsibilities of first officer.
1. Record exact time of your arrival and or notify Communications that you are on the scene.
2. Enter immediate scene using one path of entry.
3. Check victim for signs of life.
4. Secure and define the scene by assessing the entire crime scene noting all exits and paths of entry.
5. Isolate a perimeter with a type of barrier.
6. Isolate witnesses and remove all persons from the immediate area.
7. Ascertain whether or not any evidence is present and control collection.
8. Request additional unites as needed.
Responsibilities of patrol supervisor:
1. Take an initial survey of the area, developing a mental image to ensure the scene is preserved.
2.Record names, addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers etc of all persons present.
3. Set up a command post if police are to be at the scene for a long period of time.
4. Start a crime scene log to enter everyone who enters the crime scene.
6. Notify the homicide division and record time of notification and who was notified.
Don’t touch anything; unless there’s an injured person. Once backup arrives, if the victim is removed from the scene, an officer should accompany the victim, in the ambulance, to the hospital