POLICE Magazine Supplements

Investigative Technologies 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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T THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BEING A FIRST RESPONDER should never be lost on you. Because you are first, you have a huge list of responsibilities that compete for your attention all at once. One of the most important responsibilities you have involves the crime scene and its preservation. e type of call you were dispatched to will help you deter- mine where crime scene duties fall on your list of priorities. Let's face it; if the call is in progress, preserving the crime scene is not even on your radar at first. On the other hand, if the call is not in progress, then preserving the crime scene needs to be- come a part of every decision you make a•er you arrive. Gener al Consider ations f the call is in progress, you don't start anything with the crime scene until the dust settles. Your safety, as well as that of the victim and of those in the immediate area, is para- mount. Your first priority is to do what needs to be done in order to obtain control of the situation and to render it as safe as possi- ble. at includes providing first aid, removing victims from the scene, and finding the suspect. Everything else becomes second- ary. However, you can't totally ignore the crime scene. You should try to keep in mind how things appeared when you first arrived. Try to take mental notes if nothing else. If possible, capture the scene with your body camera and record or write out your notes. is includes noting anything you had to move, rearrange, or break through to get in. If you don't have a body camera, you can use your agency supplied smartphone's video or still camera features. Keep in mind that if you use your personal phone to record evidence, then your phone can be subpoenaed. Follow your agency's policy on using recording devices at the scene. You are responsible for reporting everything that happened regardless of the type of call you are on. Even if it began as an in-progress call or you were dealing with an emergency before the dust settled, that does not relieve you of that requirement. at being said, your initial involvement in crime scene pres- ervation revolves around three basic duties: establishing a pe- rimeter, finding out the suspects' movements, and keeping any unauthorized people out of the crime scene. Each one has its own focus that you must keep in mind. Es tablish a Perimeter here are really only two types of perimeters we ever deal with in law enforcement: the one we use to try to contain suspects to a certain area and the other, where we cordon o… an area to preserve the crime scene. Although we work hard at the first one, we sometimes forget the importance of the second. Crime scene preservation and its importance can't be overstat- ed, especially for first responders. Your actions, or lack thereof, will either help protect the crime scene or help destroy it. It's hard to get a conviction without evidence, so you need to pre- serve as much of the crime scene as possible. e nature of your call will determine how large your perim- eter needs to be. Most of the time, using crime scene tape will su…ice. It's always better to go big at first because you can al- ways shrink it down later. It never works out well the other way around. Keep in mind that on more serious calls or for scenes that cover a wider area, you might have to use road blocks, post o…icers at key points, or even use other governmental agencies' 16 | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | I N V E S T IG AT I V E T E C H NO L O G I E S HOW TO PRESERVE A CRIME SCENE Don't neglect your duty to keep evidence uncontaminated when you arrive on a call. AMAURY MURGADO T I

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