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Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

APRIL 2014

Welcome to the April 2014 Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

Searching in Stages to Prevent
Destruction of Evidence at Crime Scenes

Greg Dagnan

They say that you don't really understand a topic until you teach it. I am never really sure who "they" are, but I can certainly attest after only two years as a university level instructor, that "they" are correct.

After 16 years of experience in law enforcement working countless crime scenes, I started teaching college students and cops the basics of crime scene investigation. I read every text I could find, performed countless "Google" searches and read every periodical I could get my hands on. I was finally ready to teach "crime scene search patterns." I taught lane searches, zone searches and the famous CWA search (the "Cop Wondering Around" search; not recommended, by the way).

My class full of officers seemed to understand the basics, so off we went to the crime scene "house" to practice what we learned. I watched officer after officer find a piece of evidence on the ground and then accidentally kick it, step on it or destroy it in some way while searching for other evidence. Officers would place tent markers on items of evidence to clearly mark them and then place junk out of a drawer on top of the items before they could be collected. Someone even lifted a mattress to look underneath and the mattress slid of the other side of the bed, crushing a piece of evidence! I realized then that all the methods I'd been teaching had failed and decided to come up with a way to search crime scenes that would keep evidence in tact. The solution: searching in stages. This seems to be easily understood by learners and more importantly, works solidly in the real world of CSI.

Level One Search: This is the most basic and superficial search. First, a search pattern is chosen that would be most effective for the crime scene environment to be examined. For example, a "zone" search would be chosen for a small apartment, while a "grid" search might be chosen for a large open outdoor area.

I always recommend switching officer positions and completing a search pattern a second time so that another set of eyes reviews every search. Additionally, the crime scene commander should not become a searcher, but should remain free to make evaluative decisions about what constitutes evidence and to coordinate the numbering of all found potential evidence.

As evidence is located, the commander makes a decision as to whether the item is potential evidence and if so makes a second decision concerning what number that particular piece should be. After this process, an evidence marking device is placed near the evidence. When conducting a level one search, the officer's eyes are the only tools used. Nothing is touched; therefore this is the least invasive form of search. The only items of evidence searched for are those that can be detected without moving any object in the scene.

Once all officers have completed the search and the pattern is double checked, all items are prepared for collection before the level two search. At a minimum this includes, a midrange photo (hopefully over-all photos were taken before the scene was searched or altered in any way), a close up photo (with ABFO scale) and measurement to the item from two fixed points for a sketch. Video taping may

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*Article submitted by the author

This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook:
Best Practices for Evidence Handlers

Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation

The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook offers guidance for individuals involved in the collection, examination, tracking, packaging, storing, and disposition of biological evidence. This may include crime scene technicians, law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, forensic scientists, forensic laboratory managers, evidence supervisors, property managers, storage facility personnel, lawyers, testifying experts, court staff members, and anyone else who may come in contact with biological evidence. While many of the recommendations relate to the physical storage, preservation, and tracking of evidence at the storage facility, this handbook also covers the transfer of the material between the storage facility and other locations and discusses how the evidence should be handled at these other locations.

This report is divided into five main sections that detail issues and make recommendations related to biological evidence storage, tracking, preservation, and disposition. A glossary, which provides standard definitions of the technical terms used in this report, follows these sections.

<View the Handbook>

New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 475 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Crime Scene Investigator II
City of Simi Valley, CA

Final Filing Date: April 30, 2014
Salary: $25.86 - $33.00 per hour
Identifies, collects, analyzes, and preserves physical evidence from major crime scenes; ensures all evidence is documented appropriately; takes photographs and video of crime scenes and major traffic accidents; assists investigators in reconstructing crime scene events, including bloodstain and shooting incidents; MORE
<View complete job listing>
Computer Forensic Analyst
Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center, Springfield, MO

Final Filing Date: April 28, 2014
Salary: $59,639 per year to start
Providing computer forensic services for criminal justice agencies, including evidence recovery and training.
<View complete job listing>
Criminalist I
City of Baltimore, MD

Final Filing Date: May 1, 2014
Salary: $44,966 - $54,711 per year
Conducts chemical and physical laboratory tests of unknown substances and evidence involved in crimes.
<View complete job listing>

Property Technician
Hayward Police Dept, CA

Final Filing Date: April 24, 2014
Salary: $4,546 - $5,447 per month
Receive, store, inventory and release or dispose of property turned in as evidence or taken for prisoners, and to generate and maintain a variety of records and reports. MORE
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Scientist (Latent Prints)
Virginia Department of Forensic Science, Prince William

Final Filing Date: May 1, 2014
Salary: $52,647 - $88,076 per year
The Virginia Department of Forensic Science is seeking a court qualified applicant to perform a full range of functions to recover and examine latent finger, palm and foot prints for identification purposes.MORE
<View complete job listing>
Supervisor Forensic Services
New York State Police, Newburgh

Final Filing Date: April 28, 2014
Salary: $75,243 per year
The Supervisor Forensic Services assigned to the Mid-Hudson Satellite Crime Laboratory (MHSCL) is responsible for administration of all forensic analysis performed at the Mid-Hudson Satellite Crime Laboratory. MORE
<View complete job listing>

Search for more job listings in Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics
<Crime Scene Investigator Network Employment Listings>

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