Personnel Duties and Responsibilities

There are certain personnel duties and responsibilities which are necessary in almost any major search operation. Those enumerated in these guidelines concentrate on the ones which are typically crucial to ensure that search efforts are conducted in an organized and methodical fashion. It is important to note it may not be feasible to have one person assigned to each duty. It is relatively common for one person to accomplish two or more duties.

   See also the instructional video on "Processing the Crime Scene"

For all positions, interest and attitude of personnel are paramount concerns. Training and experience will only be used to best potential when team members possess a positive attitude. This human side of evidence response teams is significant due to the long hours and attention to detail often required of personnel.

The major assignments, as well as corresponding general duties and responsibilities, are set forth as follows:

  1. Team Leader
  2. Photographer and Photographic Log Recorder
  3. Sketch Preparer
  4. Evidence Recorder/Evidence Recovery Personnel
  5. Specialists

Team Leader

  1. Assume control - ensure safety of personnel and security at scene. Ensure personnel use appropriate protective equipment and follow standard recommendations to protect them from any health hazard which might be presented by blood or any other human body fluid.
  2. Conduct initial walk-through for purposes of making a preliminary survey, evaluating potential evidence, and preparing a narrative description.
  3. Determine search patterns, and make appropriate assignments for team members.
  4. Designate command post location and ensure exchange of information between search and investigative personnel.
  5. Coordinate with other law enforcement agencies and make sure a cooperative spirit is maintained.
  6. Ensure that sufficient supplies and equipment are available for personnel.
  7. Control access to the scene and designate an individual to log everyone into the scene.
  8. Continuously reevaluate efficiency of search during entire course of operation.
  9. Release the scene after a final survey and inventory of the evidence has been done.

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Photographer and Photographic Log Recorder

  1. Photograph entire area before it is entered.
  2. Photograph victims, crowd, and vehicles.
  3. Photograph entire scene with overall, medium and close-up coverage, using measurement scale when appropriate.
  4. Photograph major evidence items before they are moved; coordinate this effort with Sketch Preparer, Evidence Recorder, and Evidence Recovery Personnel.
  5. Photograph all latent fingerprints and other impression evidence before lifting and casting are accomplished.
  6. Prepare photographic log and photographic sketch.

Sketch Preparer

  1. Diagram immediate area of scene and orient diagram with sketch.
  2. Set forth major items of evidence on sketch.
  3. Designate and label areas to be searched and advise team leader and all other search members of nomenclature for designated areas.
  4. Obtain appropriate assistance for taking measurements and double check measurements.
  5. Ensure necessary administrative information, such as scale disclaimer (not drawn to scale), is recorded on sketch.

Evidence Recorder/Custodian

  1. Have significant evidence photographed before collection.
  2. Describe evidence and its location on appropriate bag or envelope.
  3. Sign and date evidence container/maintain chain of custody.
  4. Appropriately collect and package evidence to maximize evidence integrity.
  5. Maintain evidence log.
  6. Use appropriate protective equipment (gloves) and methods when dealing with potentially infective evidence (blood).

 Earn a Degree in Crime Scene Investigation, Forensic Science, Computer Forensics or Forensic Psychology


It is sometimes necessary to bring in expertise from an outside agency. The field of forensic science is so broad today that no agency will have every form of specialty service available from among its ranks. Typically, specialists are brought in from industry, the academic community, private scientific laboratories, and similar concerns.

When dealing with outside specialists some pertinent aspects to consider are:

  1. The competence and reliability of the specialist.
  2. The ability of the specialist to work at a scene within law enforcement guidelines.
  3. The role of the specialist in presenting expert testimony in court.

Specialists should be identified before they are needed in an actual case. A current list should be maintained, if possible. The agency should meet with these individuals to determine the best manner to jointly conduct search planning, operations, and follow-up activity.

The following list provides examples of specialty assistance to be considered (it is not meant to be completely inclusive):

  • Anthropologist
  • Blood Pattern Analyst
  • Bomb Technician
  • Criminalist
  • Engineer
  • Entomologist
  • Medical Examiner
  • Odontologist
  • Surveyor

This information was adapted from the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training's workbook for the "Forensic Technology for Law Enforcement" Telecourse presented on May 13, 1993. Please see the acknowledgments.

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