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This paper not only discusses why caring for the injured, ensuring scene safety and security, and undertaking scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody are the most important crime scene responsibilities but also illuminates aspects of what needs to be done to ensure that these selections are conducted properly. From the discussion and analysis, it is evident that caring for the injured and ensuring scene safety and security should be the first priorities of the responding officers, hence their selection. It is also evident that the responsibility of undertaking scene walk-through for evidence and chain of command is equally important based on its capacity to provide the lead investigator with the opportunity to not only gain an overview of the situation but also to implement a tactic for the methodical assessment and documentation of the whole crime scene. Although each crime scene responsibility is unique and important in its own way, this paper has provided enough justifications to show why the three selections are of utmost importance in crime scene investigations.
Available forensic science scholarship underscores the importance of preserving and recording evidence at a crime scene in its original condition if investigators are to succeed in searching for the perpetrator (Fisher & Fisher, 2012; Saferstein, 2012). As a matter of fact, the actions of the first professionals in attendance at a crime scene are of immense importance not only in maximizing the recording and recovery of relevant evidence but also in ensuring that the executors of the crime are apprehended. Crime scenes that have been correctly safeguarded and proficiently assessed using a methodical, sequenced strategy can provide fundamental evidence, hence the need for investigators to develop an adequate understanding of crime scene responsibilities and their importance (Horswell, 2013).
Concurrently, research is consistent that forensic evidence in crime scene settings may be damaged by the absence of essential crime scene preservation procedures, thus the need for investigators to take firm and active steps aimed at protecting crime scenes (Jamel, 2014). In this light, the present paper discusses why caring for the injured, ensuring scene safety and security, and undertaking scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody are the most important crime scene responsibilities and what needs to be done to ensure that these selections are conducted properly.
Importance of the Selected Crime Scene Responsibilities
Caring for the injured is an important crime scene responsibility based on the fact that the preservation of life should form the primary objective of the investigators. Here, it is important for the investigators to ascertain whether the victim needs any medical assistance since the preservation of life should be given primacy in crime scene investigations. Available scholarship underscores the need for investigators to call for medical assistance when they reach a crime scene with the view to ensuring that first aid is promptly rendered to the victims (Fisher & Fisher, 2012). Additionally, this crime scene responsibility is more important than the others due to the fact that the victim may help in identifying the perpetrator of the crime if concerted efforts are made to preserve life.
Moreover, it ethically and morally fits for investigators to first care for the injured even as they take appropriate measures to preserve and record evidence (Horswell, 2013). The responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of a crime scene is equally important based on the fact that the lives of police and other professionals offering support services may be endangered in a crime situation. Although it is important to secure the crime scene with the view to ensuring minimal contamination and disturbance of physical evidence, the first priority of the initial responding officer should be to ensure the safety and physical well-being of officers and other persons in and around the crime scene (Fisher & Fisher, 2012). As such, it is important for investigators to implement measures aimed at controlling physical threats in a crime scene with the view to protecting their own lives and those of the general public. Lastly, the responsibility of undertaking scene-walk through for evidence and chain of custody is important based on its capacity to provide the lead investigator with the opportunity to not only gain an overview of the situation but also to implement a tactic for the methodical assessment and documentation of the whole crime scene.
Adverse Events to a Crime Scene
If the selection of caring for the injured is not conducted properly, it is possible to lose unnecessary lives and also to lose critical pieces of evidence that may be known to the victims. Additionally, failure to ensure the safety and security of the crime scene may occasion harm to the investigators, medical personnel, and other people in and around the crime scene. Finally, failing to undertake a proper scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody may adversely interfere with the evidence that could be used by the investigators to solve the crime and apprehend the perpetrator. It may also be impossible to preserve the scene from possible contamination, formulate a strategy for processing the scene and the collection and preservation of evidence, and make a determination on whether additional equipment or personnel are needed to process the scene if the responding officers failed to undertake a proper scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody.
How to Conduct the Selections Properly
A multiplicity of recommendations and guidelines can be used to ensure that the crime scene responsibilities selected in this paper are conducted properly and professionally. In ensuring scene safety and security, it is important for the responding investigators to remain observant of any persons, vehicles, events, and other environmental conditions with the view to ascertaining that the perpetrator is no longer in the immediate vicinity of a crime setting and is not a threat to individuals at or in close proximity to a crime scene (Saferstein, 2012). It is also important for the responding team to examine the crime scene for physical things, sounds, and scents that may signify danger to the professionals and other people at the site. The crime scene should be approached in a manner that not only minimizes the risk of harm to the responding officers but also optimizes the safety and security of victims, witnesses, and other people in close proximity to the area. Lastly, it is also important to not only survey the crime scene for potentially dangerous people with the view to controlling the situation but also to notify supervisory personnel and call for assistance or backup (Burrell & Bull, 2011).
In caring for the injured, it is important for the responding professionals to ensure that proper medical attention is given to the injured individuals without unnecessarily contaminating the crime scene. Available forensic science scholarship demonstrates that this crime scene responsibility can be conducted properly by (1) assessing the victims for signs of life and medical requirements with the view to providing immediate medical attention, (2) calling for medical professionals, (3) guiding the medical professionals to the victim with the view to reducing contamination or alteration of the crime scene, (4) pointing out potential physical evidence to the medical professionals and instructing them to reduce contact with such evidence, (5) instructing the medical professionals not to “clean up” the scene and to desist from removing or altering items originating from the scene, (6) obtaining the names, units, and telephone numbers of the medical professionals providing assistance to the injured, (7) obtaining the name and location of the medical facility where the victims are to be taken for further treatment, (8) attempting to obtain a dying declaration in situations where the victim may die, and (9) documenting any statements or comments made by victims, suspects, or witnesses at the crime scene (Balemba, Beauregard, & Martineau, 2014; Saferstein, 2012). Lastly, in undertaking scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody, it is important for the responding officers to document and photograph the items found in the crime scene, ensure that any fragile evidence is secured or tagged, place numbered markers near each item of evidence located with the view to alerting other crime-scene personnel to the location of difficult-to-observe evidence, canvas the area outside the barricaded scene, and take particular note of aspects of the crime scene that may suggest the timing of the incident (Saferstein, 2012).
This paper has not only discussed why caring for the injured, ensuring scene safety and security, and undertaking scene walk-through for evidence and chain of custody are the most important crime scene responsibilities, but also illuminated aspects of what needs to be done to ensure that these selections are conducted properly. Although each crime scene responsibility is unique and important in its own way, this paper has provided adequate reasons to show why the three selections are of utmost importance in crime scene investigations.
Balemba, S., Beauregard, E., & Martineau, M. (2014). Getting away with murder: A thematic approach to solved and unsolved homicides using crime scene factors. Police Practice & Research, 15(3), 221-233. Web.
Burrell, A., & Bull, R. (2011). A preliminary examination of crime analysts’ views and experiences of comparative case analysis. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 13(1), 2-15. Web.
Fisher, B.A.J., & Fisher, D.R. (2012). Techniques of crime scene investigation (8th ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Horswell, J. (2013). The practice of crime scene investigation (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Jamel, J. (2014). An exploration of rapists’ motivations as illustrated by their crime scene actions: Is the gender of the victim an influential factor? Journal of Investigative Psychology & Offender Profiling, 11(3), 276-298. Web.
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Saferstein, R. (2012). Forensic Science: From the crime scene to the crime lab (2nd ed.). New York City, NY: Pearson.