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McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Criminal Investigation Criminal Investigation Swanson Chamelin Territo eighth edition FIVE Field Notes and Investigating Reporting
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. LEARNING OBJECTIVES Understand the importance of field notes Distinguish between basic and primary investigative questions List the six primary investigative questions Understand formats for basic incident reports Discuss aids to information gathering Summarize the report approval and disposition processes List elements common to incident reports Explain techniques involved in writing effective reports 5-1
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. THE IMPORTANCE OF FIELD NOTES Field notes are more reliable than an officer's memory Field notes are the primary information source for the incident report Field notes completed in detail may reduce the need to re-contact the parties involved Field notes can be used to defend the integrity of the incident report 5-2
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. BASIC INVESTIGATIVE QUESTIONS Asked by the first-responding officer Used to fill in the blank spaces on the face of an incident report Typically includes items such as: –Identity of victims and witnesses –How to recontact victims and witnesses –Specific information about the crime –Descriptions of the suspect 5-3
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. PRIMARY INVESTIGATIVE QUESTIONS Primary questions meet most investigative information needs There are six recognized categories of primary questions: –What –When –Where –Who –How –Why 5-4
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. INCIDENT REPORT While the exact layout for incident reports typically varies from one jurisdiction to another, they all have a face with blanks into which the officer conducting the preliminary investigation enters basic case information. –Suspects: Additional information about suspects. –Witnesses: Information from witnesses, including their descriptions of events and things as they experienced them through their four senses. –Evidence: The evidence seized, how it was marked, the chain of custody, and numbers assigned by the property or evidence control room is recorded. –Interviews: All persons with whom the investigator talked during the course of the inquire should be identified, even if they could not provide information at the initial contact. –Investigation: A short description of the crime scene may be given to permit a basic conceptualization of it by persons to whom it is unfamiliar. –Reconstruction: The reconstruction is a narration of the probably manner in which the crime was committed. 5-5
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. INCIDENT REPORT (contd) 5-5 (Source: Courtesy Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Police Department)
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. NIBRS The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), is administered by the FBI Its format allows for much more data about an offense to be gathered Data gathered allows police to look for relationships between: –Victims and offenders –drugs/alcohol and crime 5-6
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. NIBRS INCIDENT REPORT The NIBRS incident report collects a significant amount of information for later analysis by investigators 5-7 (Source: Courtesy Sterling Heights, Michigan, Police Department)
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. SUSPECT DESCRIPTION FORM There are numerous aids that investigators can use to gather information from witnesses. The suspect description form is one such aid. 5-8 (Source: Courtesy Philadelphia, Police Department)
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. ASSORTED HANDGUNS Another valuable aid for investigators is the handgun identification chart such as the one shown. This is a useful tool for witnesses who are unfamiliar with guns mm Smith & Wesson Semiautomatic.22 RG-10 Revolver.357 Herters Derringer.357 Colt Python Revolver.25 Colt Semiautomatic.45 U.S. Semiautomatic.22 Ruger Revolver.38 Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special Revolver (Source: A Visual Aid for Firearms Identification, Federal Bureau of Investigation.)
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. REPORT APPROVAL AND DISPOSITION PROCESS Police reports are subject to supervisory review for corrections and guidance before their final disposition Well written reports are very helpful to investigators who may be conducting follow- up investigations at a later date 5-10 Officer sends/gives Incident Report to supervisor Supervisor reviews report Requests corrections and/or additional information Corrections made and/or additional information provided Approves/Signs report Makes disposition Retained for further uniformed officer investigation Unfounded Inactivated Referred for plainclothes investigation
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. THE REPORT DISPOSITION PROCESS Supervisory options for report disposition following approval include: –The case may be retained for further investigation by uniformed officers –It may be unfounded (i.e., the complaint is false) –The case may be inactivated due to the lack of leads –It may be referred to plainclothes investigators 5-11
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. COMMON ELEMENTS OF INCIDENT REPORTS Race, Ethnicity and Sex Age Physical and Addresses Telephone/Pager/Wireless Numbers Personal Descriptions Property Description Occupation Value Date Time 5-12
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. WRITING EFFECTIVE REPORTS If incident reports are going to serve the many uses to which they can be put, they must meet certain standards. –Fill in all of the blanks on the incident report –Write the report in the first person –Avoid unnecessary technical or legalistic jargon –Write short sentences –Use shorter paragraphs for the same reason. –Support any conclusions you express with details –Dont repeat facts more than once –Check your spelling –Edit what you write 5-13(a)
McGraw-Hill © 2003, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. SUPPLEMENTAL REPORTS Supplemental reports are written to: –Document new or corrected information –Document specific acts or accomplishments, such as the issuance of a warrant, arrest of a suspect, or the recovery of property –Unfound an offense –Exceptionally clear an offense –Inactivate a case –Should be written every 10 days 5-14
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