At a crime scene, the first responders other than onlookers are usually law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, and depending on the situation, fire department personnel. To get an accurate account and successful resolution in a crime investigation, first responders at the scene must maintain the links that connect the suspect to the victim and the crime scene.
Objective of a Crime Scene
A crime scene is the beginning point of a successful or unsuccessful investigation. The main objectives of a crime scene are to preserve and collect relevant information and any physical evidence that will make a connection between all parties involved. The first responders dispatched to the scene of a crime are usually the only people who get to view the crime scene immediately after the crime took place, at its original state. The end result of the investigation is to ensure that justice is served.
Duties of a Crime Scene Investigator
The starting point of a crime scene investigation is where important information is discovered and collected to help solve the crime. The crime scene investigator (CSI) at the scene first gets an understanding of what the investigation will entail and construct a plan of action for locating and gathering evidence. Every crime scene is different, however the crime scene investigator has to make sure that all physical evidence is located and collected in a proper manner, record all pertinent information, secure the scene from contamination, and go over what he or she thinks took place, and how and why it happened.
Below are a few procedures first responders must take to ensure a successful conclusion of a crime investigation.
Ensure safety. First responders have to make sure that the victim(s) is safe and is provided with proper medical treatment and kept out of danger. Paramedics responding to the crime scene will treat the victim and bring the victim to a nearby hospital for a physical examination and medical care if necessary.
Secure area. Establishes crime scene security perimeter measures by securing the crime scene area as soon as possible with battier tape, police vehicles or other means to preserve the evidence and make sure that the crime scene does not get contaminated.
Interview victims and witnesses. Conduct a preliminary interview with onlookers and the victim, if possible, to determine if anyone can identify the person who committed the crime. At this time the attending officer will obtain a physical description of the suspect and ask the victim to explain what happened to the best of their ability.
Manage the area. An officer is assigned as the crime scene security officer. The security officer will keep a log of names of personnel entering and exiting the crime scene area. Anyone entering a crime scene can contaminate the evidence that could possibly link the suspect to the crime scene, so accurate documentation and evidence preservation is essential.
Try to immediately apprehend the suspect. Officers will look for the person who committed the crime at the scene and make an arrest if the suspect is still in the vicinity of the crime scene.
Detain all witnesses and onlookers. Collect valuable information that may help in the investigation by interviewing people at the crime scene. Witnesses usually have important information about the suspect and what took place. Though credibility may be an issue in some cases with the information given, victims and suspects, physical evidence in such a case will be very useful to connect any missing link.
Report back to the leading crime scene investigator or detective. All events that took place, any adjustments or alterations made to the crime scene and all movements in and out the crime scene perimeter will be documented. Lack of accurate information, omissions, negligence, under or overemphasis in information can severely damage the investigation and the outcome of a successful conclusion. An accurate account of what happened, without any addition or deletion is extremely important when communicating with the leading crime scene investigator.