The Real CSI
There is never a dull moment in the life of a crime scene investigator. The work includes looking into burglaries, homicides, armed robberies, sexual assaults, or home invasions. A crime scene investigator is expected to process and transport crime scene evidences, arrange investigative reports, produce evidence in court, upgrade investigative equipments, and learn about the latest crime scene investigation techniques.
Crime Scene Photography
There are a few important aspects of crime scene investigation, and one of them is crime scene photography. This is often considered an indispensable tool for crime scene investigations. Photos of crime scenes are some of the best evidences, and they serve as a great tool for people search as well as the recording of physical data. Also, the evidence that is provided by a good photograph is sometimes more convincing in courts than signed confessions.
Organization and Procedures for Search Operations
A crime scene investigator is also responsible for the organization of the crime scene, and the execution of certain procedures for search operations. He has to be aware of the legal consequences of searching a crime scene, set up a search plan with other crime scene personnel, and ensure that the safety and comfort of the search personnel are not compromised. Therefore, it is essential for a crime scene investigator to keep items such as clothing, communication devices, lighting equipments, food, transportation, and medical kits handy before the commencement of search operations.
To properly process a crime scene, it is essential for the crime scene investigator to document the crime scene. A well-documented crime scene will make it easier for people to reconstruct the scene of crime, usually for a court room presentation. Crime scene documentation ideally comprises of three investigative methods. The first method is writing notes about the crime scene; the second one is taking crime scene photographs; and the third is making diagrams or sketches of the crime scene. When all these three things are done, a convincing reconstruction of the scene can be rendered.
Once the crime scene has been documented, the CSI must complete the formal police documentation for their records. This include filling out formal logs.
Protecting the Crime Scene
For a crime scene investigator, protection of the crime scene is of utmost importance. The detectives, search personnel, and supervisors have to ensure that the crime scene is visited by as little people as possible. A crime scene investigator should have a sign-in log for all the visitors, which he should sign himself before entering the crime scene. Furthermore, the opening of drawers and closets in a crime scene should be kept to a minimum.
Examining the Crime Scene
There are certain procedures that need to be followed when a crime scene investigator examines a crime scene. He needs to question the officers who visited the scene of crime first. After that, the search operation will commence in a methodical manner. The body will be examined without destroying any evidence. The floor, the windows, and the doors, as well as the electrical equipments of the crime scene must be carefully examined. Shining a flashlight on the ground, the walls, and even the ceiling may reveal suspicious marks or stains. The crime scene investigator also needs to look out for drag marks or footprints.
Collection and Preservation of Evidence
The evidence gathered by the crime scene investigator is mostly kept in paper or plastic containers, such as envelopes, bags, or packets. Liquid evidence, on the other hand, must be preserved in leak proof and non-breakable containers. Evidence of arson is generally collected in air-tight metal cans, whereas plastic containers are used to collect wet evidences such as blood. Moist evidence can be preserved by removing it from plastic containers within two hours, and wet evidence must be air-dried. Moreover, each of the containers should be labelled with the name of the collector, detailed description of the evidence, and the date of collection.
It is not an easy task to be a crime scene investigator, because it requires the application of scientific expertise and excellent organizational skills. Abilities to write comprehensive reports and draw accurate sketches, as well as attention to minute details are some of the other skills that a crime scene investigator needs to possess.