In today’s society where crimes are committed daily, one of the most troubling things to deal with is the response by police officer, and what their job Intel’s. When a person looks at law enforcement from the civilian standpoint their job seem simple, which might be the reason for comments like “if you want to find a cop go to Krispy Kreme donut shop’. However after looking at the job of first responding officers to serious related crimes, like rape, murders and first degree burglaries, it is easy to realize their job is complicated.
For example, if I was a police officer responding to a report of a sexual assault, the work I would need to put in to the investigation would be enormous. First of all, I would receive a radio call telling me to respond to a certain address reference a sexual assault. I would respond back to the dispatch repeating the address to insure I was going to the right place. Then once the address was confirmed I would ask for a point of contact. The reason for a point of contact it gives you as the officer a person meet on the scene hopefully to talk to other than the victim. However if there is not a third party, and the person you are looking for is the victim it tells you also who you need to talk too. Once you arrive at the scene, this is where all your training comes in to play. If you were a New York City police officer the policy states the first thing they would do is secure the crime scene. However, in the text book for criminal investigations it states that the officer must make contact with the victim and offer medical attention. On the other hand, Garner police officer Robert Jones says” they first thing his department does is make sure the assailant is gone. If he is there, because he might be a husband or family member, they would place the subject in hand irons for protection. The next thing I would do as an officer is make contact with the victim and get her name. I would reassure her everything would be alright, and then I would go into evidence protection and gathering mode. If the dispatch had not already dispatched a SOIT (Sexual offense investigation team) to the site I would call for one. Then I would instruct the victim not to remove any clothes or items off their body, because she was our best source of evidence. I would set up a perimeter to the residence, or the area where the assault took place. The reason I would do this is to protect evidence in the crime scene so that it could not be contaminated. Also because many times according to law man’s today magazine crimes scenes are destroyed by poor police work.
Meanwhile, I would be interviewing the victim a to get information out of her, so I could put out a description of the suspect, and maybe catch him quickly. Even though women’s daily states that 70 percent of rapes are performed by suspects the victim knows. I would be gathering field notes and drawing diagrams until the forensic team arrives. Once they arrive I would annotate the time they got their and log them into the crime scene to take pictures. All the while I would be trying to get names of as many people involved until the crime scene is taken over by officer supporting the investigation. When the Emergency Medical unit arrives I would have them briefed of the crime and what procedures the hospital should be aware of. Since I am the first responder sometimes females draw a quick bond to the first officer responding, however if she doesn’t I would have a member of the SOIT brief her on what we needed to process this case. Which was a rape kit? The rape kit is the most important part of an investigation of a rape case. It is the process according to Donnie Harrison, the current Wake County Sherriff that can make or break a police investigation. In this process the medical doctors collects valuable information like suspect’s seamen and hairs that can possibly be matched to DNA.
Another area I would focus on is the most important in evidence gathering and collection. It would be the chain of custody. Every piece of evidence gathered at the scene would be marked for evidence and stored in the appropriate storage container. You would not want to mix evidence from different location because you might jeopardize the validity of the evidence by cross contamination. In reference the chain of custody is so important is how evidence is tracked, and if the chain is busted then once again the validity of the evidence can be challenged. We all know what a good attorney can do to questionable evidence just look at O.J. Simpson murder trial. Now if a suspect is captured at the crime scene another scenario takes places. Other than investigating the crime sometimes the responding officer is responsible for the initial interrogation. In the local police dept. near where I live that is left to the detectives or the state bureau of investigations. However if I am the person interrogating the suspect I would wait till I got to the police station and put the person in a closed room with no two way mirrors. Also I would remove any distractions and I would try to build a report with the suspect. Sometimes a good relationship is all they need, because most of them want to confess anyway it’s like a badge to them. If a suspect was apprehended I would make sure that their Miranda rights was read to them and all my” I” s were dotted and my tees crossed.
A lot of times when a person such as a street cop or a detective is handling a serious crime scene after all the flash of responding is gone there is a lot of work is done. The type of work that doesn’t get a lot of popularity or front line newspaper responses, but is important in the process of solving the case. A lot of cases are overturned because of people not following crime scene protocol. In the text book criminal investigation gives standard and different patterns of how searches and seizures should be conducted. Yet the state of North Carolina capital police says it employs its own standard operating procedure. The reason for this is that the book has a general outlook, but the sop takes in to account things like obstacles, police safety, and public safety. Also preservation of evidence may be hard to save if weather condition doesn’t permit, like foot prints on pavement. Therefore they might have to take pictures and dental stone is not feasible. In all regards the book is the highest standard officers are taught to attempt to achieve and SOP is the allowable deviations that approved to be made.
1). Bennett, Wayne, Hess, Karen. (1999). Criminal Investigation 5th Edition. New York. An International Thomson Publishing Company.
2) Compendium. 2nd edition. Washington DC Congressional Quarterly Inc.