The crime scene presents an element of significant importance because of the amount of physical evidence it contains and its dynamic environment. Many important points should be considered by the first officer at the crime scene. Furthermore, understanding the basics of processing a crime scene in the correct completion of documentation and proper collection of physical evidence can significantly reduce the possibility of errors in further interpretation of crime scene details. Thus, this paper will define the responsibilities of the first responding officer and explore important steps in processing a crime scene.
Firstly, the main goal of the first responding officer at the crime scene is to protect it by taking appropriate actions. Furthermore, the overall success of the case’s resolution greatly depends on the officer’s efforts. Thus, the crime scene details contain valuable information about the criminal’s identity and the circumstances of the crime. However, the scope of work for crime scene protection can vary from case to case.
Next, the primary general rule for approaching the crime scene suggests that officers take all possible preventative measures to avoid potential mistakes in crime scene processing. Thus, officers must act calm and collected to eliminate their chances of erasing valuable evidence (Fisher & Fisher, 2022). Furthermore, the first responding officer needs to document accurate time to provide a foundation for further construction of a correct chronological record. The time information can directly include the exact time of the crime or the time of the officer’s arrival in cases where detailed information about the crime is unavailable.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of the first responding officer depend on the different conditions of the crime committed and its severity. Firstly, the officer must carefully check the crime scene and its surroundings because the suspect can still be present at the location. In case the suspect is still at the scene of the crime, the officer should arrest him and remove him from the crime scene to prevent the possibility of altering the evidence. Moreover, if the arrest of a suspect for some reason requires leaving the crime scene, the officer may entrust the protection of the crime scene to a backup officer or a reliable person. Alternatively, if the victim is still present at the crime scene, the officer must provide him with the necessary medical assistance and record the details of the crime concerning the victim.
Next, the officer should carefully observe the objects present at the crime scene and their characteristics to locate possible evidence. Locations of objects that contain potential evidence and interfere with movement must be documented with photographs before the objects are removed from the crime scene. In addition, the first officer must record any additional details which may change over time, such as the presence of odors or unusual phenomena at room temperature. Lastly, the direct protection of the crime scene involves not allowing people who are not directly connected with the investigation to the crime scene. The protective measures generally focus on placing yellow tape around the perimeter, but they can also include creating protective barriers and barricades.
Next, considering the processing of the crime scene, there are two prominent aspects: documentation of the crime scene and physical evidence collection. Firstly, the documentation presents an efficient way of recording crime scene observations for further use in the investigation. To avoid excessive accumulation of materials and ensure effective use of documentation in the investigation, crime scene processing utilizes a methodical approach. Documentation of the crime scene in modern conditions can take various forms, from notes to video footage. Furthermore, to improve the process of taking notes, officers can use audio recorders and smart devices. Notes should capture the essential information about the crime scene, including the location of the crime scene, names of all people involved in the investigation, and description of the crime scene. Photography and videography allow vital supplements for the crime scene notes with detailed quality images of the crime scene environment and physical evidence. In addition, crime scene sketches are used to complement the photo documentation and ease the viewer’s understanding of the crime scene’s appearance. Modern technology allows the creation of sketches with the use of CAD Software and 3D scanning.
Lastly, physical evidence collection presents a complex process that takes place after thorough documentation of the crime scene is completed. Physical evidence is defined as “anything that has been left, changed, removed or contaminated by the victim or suspects during the crime commission (Hawthorne, 2021). Considering the scope of the process, specialists generally try to extract as much material as possible for evidence collection. Physical evidence can be used to compare it with known specimens or provide additional information to the investigation. Contamination of evidence can significantly complicate the investigation process; therefore, collecting physical evidence requires careful handling and the use of latex gloves with clean containers.
In conclusion, this paper discussed the responsibilities of the first responding officer at the crime scene and defined that the main goal of the officer is to protect and preserve the crime scene’s environment. Furthermore, the paper described the basics of processing a crime scene and explored how crime scenes are documented with the use of different approaches and technologies such as videography and 3D scanning. Lastly, the paper outlined the basic rules of physical evidence collection and explained their potential uses and issues, such as contamination.
Fisher, B.A. J., & Fisher, D. R. (2022). Techniques of crime scene investigation (9th ed.). Taylor & Francis.
Hawthorne, M. R. (2021). First unit responder: A guide to physical evidence collection for patrol officers. Taylor & Francis.