Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

JUNE 2020
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Protecting the Crime Scene

George Schiro

The most important aspect of evidence collection and preservation is protecting the crime scene. This is to keep the pertinent evidence uncontaminated until it can be recorded and collected. The successful prosecution of a case can hinge on the state of the physical evidence at the time it is collected. The protection of the scene begins with the arrival of the first police officer at the scene and ends when the scene is released from police custody.

All police departments and sheriff's offices should include intensive training for its personnel on how to properly protect crime scenes. Potentially, any police officer can be put into the position of first responding officer to a crime scene. The first officer on the scene of a crime should approach the scene slowly and methodically. In some eases this is not altogether practical. The first officer may also be involved in arresting an uncooperative suspect or performing life saving measures on an injured victim. In either ease the officer should make mental or written notes (as is practical in each situation) about the condition of the scene as it was upon the officer's arrival and after the scene has been stabilized. The officer should keep notes on the significant times involved in responding to the crime scene (time dispatched to scene, time left for scene, time arrived at scene, time left scene, etc.). An effort must be made to disturb things as little as possible in assessing the situation. Particular attention should be paid to the floor since this is the most common repository for evidence and it poses the greatest potential for contamination. Notes should also be taken if the officer has to alter something in the investigation. Some things the officer should note include: the condition of the doors, windows, and lighting (both natural and manmade); if there are any odors present; if there are any signs of activity; how EMS or fire personnel have altered the scene; anything essential about the suspect (description, statements, physical condition, mental condition, intoxication, etc.); and anything essential about the victim. Once the scene has been stabilized, the scene and any other areas which may yield valuable evidence (driveways, surrounding yards, pathways, etc.) should be roped off to prevent unauthorized people from entering the area and potentially contaminating it. Investigators and other necessary personnel should be contacted and dispatched to the scene, however, under no circumstances should the telephone at the scene be used. Once the officer has secured the scene, he or she could do the following: record witness names and others who may have entered or been at the scene; separate witnesses and suspect(s); do not discuss the events or the crime with witnesses or bystanders or let the witnesses discuss these events; listen attentively but discreetly; and protect evidence which may be in danger of being destroyed. Any actions taken should be reported to the investigators.

Many times the arrival of additional personnel can cause problems in protecting the scene. Only those people responsible for the immediate investigation of the crime, the securing of the crime scene, and the processing of the crime scene should be present. Non-essential police officers, district attorney investigators, federal agents, politicians, etc. should never be allowed into a secured crime scene unless they can add something (other than contamination) to the crime scene investigation. One way to dissuade unnecessary people from entering the crime scene is to have only one entrance/exit into the crime scene. An officer can be placed here with a notebook to take the names of all of the people entering the crime scene. The officer can then inform them that by entering the crime scene they may pose a problem by adding potential contamination, and the reason that the officer is taking their names is in case the crime scene investigators need to collect fingerprints, shoes, fibers, blood, saliva, pulled head hair, and/or pulled pubic hair from all those entering the crime scene. This will sometimes discourage non-essential personnel from entering the crime scene. The officer can also stop unwanted visitors from entering the restricted areas. If extraneous people do have to enter the scene, then make sure that they are escorted by someone who is working the scene. This is to make sure that they will not inadvertently destroy any valuable evidence or leave any worthless evidence.

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*Article submitted by the author

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

This revised and updated edition is the result of a collaborative effort to present the most up-to-date information about the issues confronting death investigators today. The death investigator is the eyes and ears of the forensic pathologist at the scene. It is hoped that these guidelines, reflecting the best practices of the forensic community, will serve as a national standard.

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The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 150 current listings!

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Evidence Technician
Skagit County Sheriff's Office, Mount Vernon, Washington, USA

Final Filing Date: June 23, 2020
To perform a variety of duties related to the storage and handling of evidence and property for the Skagit County Sheriff's Office. Responds to field investigations to assist with crime scene processing to include taking photos, sketches, evidence location, evidence processing/collection/packaging, tool mark recovery, castings, latent fingerprints, field testing, providing updates to investigators and scene supervisors, and producing detailed scene reports.
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Forensic Technician
Spokane County Sheriff, Spokane, Washington, USA

Final Filing Date: August 7, 2020
The Forensic Technician is an entry-level technical, criminal identification position in the Spokane County Sheriff's Office responsible for latent print processing and crime scene investigation.
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Evidence Technician
McLennan County Sheriff, Waco, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
Responds to crime scenes, evaluates the scene and conducts searches for evidence utilizing disciplines related to crime scene investigation to include measures and/or photographs crime scenes, evidence, processing, etc. The Evidence Technician performs a variety of tasks associated with the receiving, tracking, handling, processing, storage, safekeeping and proper disposal of all evidence and property.
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Forensic Scientist, Latent Prints
Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Littleton, Colorado, USA

Final Filing Date: June 20, 2020
By position, responds to crime scenes on-call to discover, preserve, collect, digitally document and identify physical evidence. Conducts independent physical and chemical processing for the presence of latent prints on evidence, including documentation and digital image capture. Conducts analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification of latent print evidence.
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Forensic Scientist III, Digital Evidence
North Carolina Department of Justice, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Final Filing Date: May 21, 2020
As a Forensic Scientist III, the primary responsibility of this task is to conduct detailed laboratory examinations and analyses of computer evidence involved in criminal cases at the request of all local, State, Federal and Military law enforcement agencies.
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Forensic Analyst - Toxicology (Entry- Level)
Houston Forensic Science Center, Houston, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
The Toxicology Analyst may independently perform routine chemical analyses of biological specimens in human performance toxicology cases, prepare reports on findings for use in the criminal justice system, and provide court testimony on analytical results.
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Forensic Scientist I-III, Trace Evidence
Texas Department Of Public Safety, Jersey Village, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: Ongoing
Work involves conducting laboratory tests, conducting analyses, and identifying all types of physical evidence from crime scenes with emphasis and specific recognized expertise in an option or specialty area identified above. Work involves interpreting analytical and instrumental results; establishing and maintaining records; preparing technical reports; and testifying as an expert witness in court.
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Property and Evidence Technician
Marin County Sheriff's Office, San Rafael, California, USA

Final Filing Date: June 29 2020
The Property & Evidence Technician provides support to law enforcement staff by receiving, logging, storing and managing the integrity of property and evidence, body-worn camera evidence videos, digital media evidence and other items of property and evidence held by the Sheriff. This position supervises the of chain of custody, discovery, evidence transportation, and management of evidentiary digital media.
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