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Rules of Searching Crime Scene Search Techniques, Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures.

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Presentation on theme: "Rules of Searching Crime Scene Search Techniques, Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rules of Searching Crime Scene Search Techniques, Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures

2 Protocols of searching The goal of any search during an investigation (at the crime scene, or during a consent search, or during a search warrant, etc.) is to discover evidence that helps to : 1 Establish that a crime was in fact committed, 2 Establish when/where the crime was committed 3 Identify who committed the crime (and possibly why?)

3 Search protocols Conduct a Detailed Search The search for physical evidence must be through and systematic. If you fail to recognize an item as a piece of evidence, or improperly collect the item, it may harm the integrity of your investigation. All scenes are three-dimensional never forget to look up (ceilings, walls, eves, roof, gutters, trees)

4 1 shot You only get one shot at a crime scene. You have to get it right… (whether it is a search warrant (you only have certain amount of time to conduct the search)…..or a consent search (you cant take forever…….remember reasonableness is the standard and key to conducting any law enforcement duties)

5 Searching Organizing any search includes the following; 1Dividing the duties among your team (delegate responsibilities clearly) 2Determining a search pattern (the most ideal search pattern for that particular terrain) 3Giving clear instructions (by team leader) with respect to WHAT it is youre searching for, and the parameters / scope of the search (it must be narrow in that its legally limited)

6 Protocols to two different scenes Crime Scene – Arrival (Safety of people and security of scene foremost) – Interview (overall, ID) – Examine (why) – Establish Command post – Establish perimeter – Photograph (General) – Search & Process (Find, Photo, Sketch, Collect, Record) – Sketch (Detailed) – Scene Release Search Warrant Scene – Announce authority and purpose and demand entry (K&A) – Enter and Secure premises – Photograph (General/overall) – Sketch (rough) – Search & process (Find, Photo (specific), collect (bag &tag) record/document) – Photograph / video egress - Release of scene to occupant

7 Clues/ evidence Crime Scene – Clues to the suspect ID – Suggests manner or method of how crime was committed M.O. – Things not associated with or are abnormal to the scene (foreign obj) Sometimes its obvious Sometimes its an educated guess (T.K.E.) – Training, knowledge, experience Search Warrant Scene – Search for and recover ONLY those things you have been authorized to search for (set forth by the court based upon PROBABLE CAUSE ) – Attachment A will clearly define what evidence, fruits, instrumentalities you believe are there and can seize

8 Crime Scene: What to Look For Unusual odors Presence of biological fluids, biohazards Signs of a struggle Entry and Exit points Condition of windows and doors (open/closed, locked/unlocked Condition of light switches (on/off) Condition of trash containers, ashtrays Evidence of drinking or drug abuse First responder actions Medic actions Biometrics, any trace evidence that may have DNA, prints, etc

9 First responders observations are often critical (and overlooked)

10 Crime Scene Searching Some of the methods to search a crime scene for evidence are the zone or sector search, lane or strip search, spiral search, and grid search. Each may be effective depending on the type of environment, terrain, obstacles for the searchers. (ie; highway, roadway, vs. inside basement, high rise office bldg., open field)

11 Essential note-taking at both Crime Scene and Search Warrant Scenes Time, date of arrival (specifics as to whom) What the scene looked like upon arrival Who was present when you arrived (suspects, witnesses, victims, other law enforcement, medics, neighbors, etc.) What you did (Actions) – Checked victim, interviews, evidence, photographs, video, DETAIL What the scene looked like when you left Who took control of the scene or how did you secure it. Who did you release it to?

12 Post search re-securing of the property Action after search – supervisor needs to determine the extent of damage and the necessity of securing the property.

13 Choosing the correct search method Grid? Spiral? Line / Strip? Quadrant? Zone? Lane? Lane / Parallel?

14 Spiral search Spiral or Circular Search Typically used for outdoor scenes. This search pattern is usually conducted by a single searcher (lone officer) who walks in a slightly decreasing, less-than-concentric circle from the outermost boundary towards the center for certain crimes such as arson, The process can be reversed for bomb scenes.


16 Spiral search (Inward spiral)

17 Outward spiral search

18 Lane (or Line) search Strip or Line Search Method Usually used for covering large or open areas. Ideal for sidewalks, parking lots, alley ways, etc. Personnel will line up shoulder to shoulder; usually an arms distant away from each other and move slowly along examining parallel strips of terrain. When a suspected piece of evidence is located they will call the Team Leader or evidence tech before taking any action. Personnel should try to maintain the straight line and move forward together to avoid missing areas. *stop, move in synchronicity, flag or mark, and photograph

19 Line or strip search

20 Lane (or parallel) search

21 Grid or modified technique Grid Search Method Variation of the strip search method-best used outdoors. Personnel will search a strip along one axis, east to west and then come back and cover the same area on a north to south axis. This method provides a double check of the search area for evidence that may be missed

22 Grid search


24 Strip or grid search

25 Zone search (Popular method) Zone or Sector Search Method Area to be searched is divided into zones or sectors…and marked accordingly Each person is assigned a sector to do a thorough search. The sectors can then be searched by another team member in the interest of thoroughness

26 Quadrant or zone search

27 Zone or quadrant markings Zones can be marked or designated as A, B, C and D (and beyond)….or 1,2,3,4, etc) or any combination thereof, as long as its clear. Vehicles can be broken down into zones such as; Interior Front, Interior Rear, Trunk, Engine/Hood, Exterior Apartments can be Room #1A, 1B, 1C, etc for first level rooms, and #2A, 2B, etc. for second floor rooms, B-1, B-2, etc. for basement rooms

28 Which search technique would you use, parking lot, busy 4 lane (bomb scene)

29 Which technique would you use (rural area with long, dirt road)

30 Which technique for murder scene

31 Which technique for apartment

32 Large scene considerations (combination of search techniques?)

33 Natural barriers, walls, grass, poles, etc. can all hold evidence into an area

34 Dont forget about PPE to prevent cross contamination of scenes

35 PPE, gloves, booties, mask (sometimes required), hair net, Tyvek suit, etc.

36 Collecting and Marking Evidence Bagging and Tagging Bagging Tips – Pharmacy fold for trace evidence – Blood – glass (but it depends on type (ie; on clothing, shoes, knife, etc) – Documents – paper (ideal for preserving fingerprints) or plastic container if not printing – Currency – plastic (seal if possible) – Weapons or ammunition – (zip tie/secure - box/paper bag – Narcotics – plastic (heat sealed if possible) – Flammable liquid – cans (breathable) – Explosives – sterile cans (line or unlined) – Arson Debris – sterile cans

37 Glass vials, lined paint cans

38 paper or plastic?

39 Paper bags may be used for certain evidence that has to breath

40 Forensics Choose your bagging and tagging method wisely. The value of your DNA samples, fingerprints, tool marks, etc. may depend on how you process. Although fingerprints are generally considered one of the more reliable identifying forms of evidence, DNA is essentially a genetic fingerprint however many investigations will not test for DNA evidence

41 Latent Prints Latent fingerprints may be visible, invisible or not even present at a crime scene…however every crime scene investigator should treat the scene and all physical evidence as of prints may exist. Handle with gloves, process correctly, choose bag, vial, can, appropriately

42 Contamination and cross contamination issues Keep in mind that not only can a scene or piece of evidence be contaminated at any point between the scene and trial (or lab), but investigators also run the risk of cross contaminating scenes (and evidence) if their boots/shoes, equipment, tools, clothing, etc. are not changed or decontaminated properly. This is the source of many defense challenges and gives laboratories problems in eliminating: prints, DNA, trace evidence, hair, etc.

43 DNA Despite television CSI shows, DNA is not used or even sampled in most criminal investigations. DNA testing is expensive, time consuming, requires specific storage requirements for DNA related bio- hazards, etc., and laboratories therefore have specific protocols in handling, sampling, transmitting, and testing. (*it must sufficient in its type and amount to be test, and it must be probative with respect to the crime at hand)

44 Daubert Challenge Discuss the Daubert case and what it means with regards to expert testimony in court. Discuss Daubert challenges and how investigators should expect that as a growing trend particularly in Defense arguments.

45 Never discount trash, garbage bags, dumpsters, waste cans as potentially good repositories for evidence (look for discarded gloves, bags, hats, boots, bloody clothes, etc.)

46 Photographer/videographer (photo overall, specific, details, premises, people, surroundings, etc.)

47 Photography Crime Scene and Search Warrant Video and Still (Overview – inside and outside) – Video (No Sound, 30 minute tapes or DVDs) – Stills (Digital is now OK, although Courts struggled to accept digital photos initially because of their susceptibility to be altered, morphed, copied, etc) Arrival (Immediately after scene security and victim assistance) Set, and Crime Seat Perimeter Bystanders Departure (ingress and egress points) Photo Log *rule of thumb is you can never take too many photographs at a crime scene

48 Sketching Reasoning for Sketching – Sketches are an excellent companion to photographs (Photographs are 2 dimensional so accurate distances cannot be judged) – Sketches offer accurate information about the placement of objects – Sketches help determine the relationships between distances and things – Sketches complements notes and photographs taken at the crime or search scene

49 Sketching General Tips – Sketching Team One person drawing Two measuring – Measurements to evidence are usually to center of mass unless placement of the object, e.g. a body, is important – With Crime Scenes accuracy counts. Measurements are made to the nearest inch and drawing is to scale. – With Search warrant scenes we are only trying to assist recall of what the premises searched looked like, no measurements are necessary.

50 Evidence Measurement Systems Rectangular Coordinates Method Triangulation method Base Line Method Compass Point method Cross Projection method of drawing

51 Rectangular Coordinates Method 1 2

52 Triangulation Method 1 2

53 Evidence Measurement Systems Baseline Method 1 2 3 4 A B

54 10 x 10 = 100 step guide 1Team Leader – conducts walkthrough and overall scene evaluation, assigns tasks 2Photographer –photos general scene as well as specific evidence and witnesses, victims 3Evidence Technician –controls all evidence collection, categorizes, documents, cust/control 4Schematic Artist - – draws overall sketch as well as diagrams immediate area of evidence 5Immediate Area Investigative Unit – interview victims, witnesses, first responders relevant persons inner perimeter

55 100 step process 6 Immediate Area Search Unit – locate seat of crime, measure and record, conducts search for evidence, bag and tag, etc 7General Area Search Unit – search surrounding areas, beyond perimeter, ingress and egress points, 8General Area Investigative Unit – neighborhood canvass interviews, narrow suspect pool, lab analysis, photo line ups

56 100 step process # 9, 10 if possible, if available, and if appropriate/needed 9Forensic Chemist 10Bomb Technician or Firearms Expert or other similar specialists such as fingerprint, DNA

57 Scene protocols Record and Collect all Physical Evidence that is determined to be collected by the T.L. or the Case Agent 1. Photograph and/or videotape all items before collection and enter notations in photographic or video log (rememberuse scale when necessary). 2. Mark precise evidence locations on the diagram/sketch…which coordinates with the photo log and evidence log.

58 Scene protocols Three points of consistency; (that should be accurate and synchronized for best evidence in court): 1)Photo log 2)Evidence Collection log 3)Schematic Drawing of scene (with respect to number of items, location it was found, who recovered it, etc.)

59 Evidence log Complete evidence log with appropriate notations for each item of evidence Ideally, have at least two persons: (1) See evidence in place before collection (2) Observe it being recovered (3) Mark the evidence by initialing (mark item itself or the tag, bag or sticker) (4) Count currency, or inventory valuables seized as evidence/contraband (particularly with $$ and drugs).* (5) Place identifying marks on evidence containers, e.g. date, time, case number, name of agent, etc.

60 Evidence Tech If feasible, have only one person as the assigned evidence custodian. This is typically designated by the Supervisor or Case Agent and is often the person who will ultimately testify in court as to the location all evidence was recovered. Do not unnecessarily handle evidence after recovery…or without gloves if fingerprinting Seal all evidence containers at the crime scene. Do not guess on packaging requirementsdifferent types of evidence can necessitate different containers (paper bags vs. glass vials, vs. metal pain cans, etc)

61 Legal protocols To be effective during your search, investigators should know the legal requirements for searching (are you there under consent vs. search warrant, or exigent circumstances? How about Search Incident to Arrest? ….. …and also know the items being searched for (specifically), and also…the elements of the crime being investigated

62 Generally speaking…… (5 lawful ways to search) Search Warrant (preferred by prosecutor and Courts. Either State or Federal S/W. (local Magistrates (Justices) can be problematic Consent Search (verbal, written, implied, explicit) Exigent Search (exigent circumstances such as the destruction of evidence or the threat to public safety or imminent escape, etc) Search Incident to Arrest (arms reach doctrine ie; lunging distance) (S.I.A.) Inventory or Impound Search (primarily vehicles) *plain view discoveries are not considered a search per se

63 Search Warrant A federal or state court judge may issue a search warrant for evidence of any crime. SW may be for a residence, building/office/warehouse/business, etc. A person (actual person) For blood, DNA, biometrics For mail For computers For cell phones or similar devices Vehicles, trucks, trailers, boats, conveyances,

64 Search warrant Search Warrants MUST be limited to the specific area and items named in the warrant. Items to be searched for must be set forth clearly in the affidavit of probable cause, as well as the Cover sheet of the SW application itself

65 Collecting and Marking Evidence Bagging and Tagging Evidence Tag with sequential numbering Marking the evidence (see handbook) – Latex gloves – Serial numbered items – No serial number Officer initials Date and time Exhibit # On the item if possible without destroying the evidence or compromising forensics

66 Search Warrant S/Ws are authorized by a Judge if probable cause exists. This is typically determined by the totality of the circumstances as outlined in the affidavit by the Affiant (investigator or officer seeking the warrant)

67 Consent Search A lawful consent to search is valid if given voluntarily by someone who legally and actually has the authority to consent to the search. It must be a person who can demonstrate dominion and control over the property or premises to be searched (discuss bedrooms, locked basements, sheds, apartments, etc)

68 Consent Consent means the person can not be under duress, threats or inducement by the officers or investigators. Must be voluntary It cannot be a subterfuge in attempts to circumvent the lengthy process of securing a search warrant. It cannot use trickery, promises, inducements

69 Consent can be tricky If one spouse gives consent for the home, but the other spouse stops (denies consent) the search of his bedroom, that search must stop. If any party with actual consent authority stops the consent, it over-rides any other partys explicit consent …..IF THEY HAVE REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY (R.E.P.) AND AUTHORITY TO DO SO

70 Exigent Circumstances Discuss examples; (shots being fired, screams) Imminent threat to public safety Arson/explosive cases Escape, armed/dangerous Destruction of evidence is likely or imminent (FLUSHING OF DRUGS) Perishable evidence (something that may disappear if not recovered immediately, ie; texts, snapchat photos, social media, evidence in water or water soluable, even fingerprints)

71 IMPOUND or INVENTORY search Inventory searches are done by police after a vehicle has been towed or impounded into police custody. Its done to account for everything in that car (or truck)…and a documented record is kept for them and the owner/operator of the car. Can lead to follow up search warrant (ie; blood evidence, shell casings, drug paraphernalia)

72 SEARCH INCIDENT TO ARREST S.I.A arms length doctrine (or lunging distance is the standard) according to courts Once someone is in custody (arrested), police can search their person and immediate surroundings (within lunging distance) to safeguard against weapons, hazards, destruction of evidence, etc.) Limited in scope and nature (reasonableness is key + Officers T.K.E.)

73 S.I.A. S.I.A. is valid but be careful, it can easily be abused by going further than legally allowed. (while in homes first floor you search the basement or bedrooms well beyond reach, or beyond cars interior and into the locked trunk Distinguish between S.I.A. and officers legitimate need to search for people that may still pose a threat throughout the house (different type of search)…but may also reveal plain view evidence)

74 Plain View Doctrine Discuss contraband observed in plain view of the officers sight while lawfully in a place he should be. This may give rise to stop, asking consent, or getting a search warrant…..but plain view discoveries do not allow circumvent lawful search requirements –especially if it is not contraband theyre observing

75 Inevitable Discovery This doctrine establishes that if illegally obtained evidence would be in all likelihood eventually have been discovered anyway, it may still be admissable.

76 Carroll and Terry doctrines The Carroll decision ruled that automobiles may be searched without a warrant if there is probable cause for the search and the vehicle would likely be gone before a search warrant could be obtained The Terry v. Ohio case allows officers to conduct pat downs and frisks of individuals reasonably suspected of having a weapon or about to commit a crime.

77 T.K.E. Remember, an officers Training, Knowledge and Experience matters in all cases. That combination of skills (and how you articulate them) affects the weight of an affidavit, your reports, your courtroom testimony, your overall believability by suspects, victims and most of all - jurors,

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