Crime Scene Processing
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement and it deals with crime scene processing.
Every person who enters a scene could leave DNA, hair, or fiber behind, or track it out.
You may have heard the phrase, “Take nothing but memories. Leave nothing but footprints.” This is great advice for national park visitors, but it’s not the best advice for processing a crime scene. “Take everything. Leave nothing–not even footprints” might be a better mantra.
Mishandling evidence and failing to collect important evidence can get you and your department into hot water. Worse yet, it could mean that a criminal goes free.
Here are a few reminders. Make sure that searches and evidence seizures are lawful. Consider securing a search warrant– even if you think an exception to the warrant requirement applies. If you’re not sure whether something may be evidence, collect it. Take photographs. Lots of them. Don’t forget to look at documents. Receipts, invoices, bills, and other printouts might include dates or times. This could help establish where a suspect, witness, or victim was at a certain time. Remember that DNA can be found in many places, including sink and shower drains, food, envelopes, and the sticky side of the tape.
Limit access to the scene. Remove everyone who doesn’t need to be there. This includes people from your own agency. Every person who enters a scene could leave DNA, hair, or fiber behind, or track it out.
Do not eat or smoke at the scene.
Leave nothing behind. Don’t discard trash or use the restroom at the scene. When you’re done, remove all crime scene tape, equipment, and supplies.
As best you can return the place to its pre-search condition.
Then document, document, document.
Now is probably your best opportunity to document the scene and collect evidence. Do it right. You might not get a second chance.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.