196 Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones

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1 The Documentation 9 Documentation is an essential part of any crime scene investigation. Everything that is associated with the crime scene investigation must be documented in writing and becomes part of the permanent case file. Juries are composed of a more informed citizenry whose demands for facts are based on testimony but are substantiated by documentation. Defense attorneys will seek any opportunity to create a perception of faulty protocol or weak documentation. Remember, defense attorneys do not try to prove their client s innocence, but rather to create reasonable doubt and gain acquittal or dismissal of charges. One of the most frequently used defense tactics is to attempt to discredit the CSI. When the physical evidence creates linkages that may associate the defendant to the crime and the crime scene then the defense attorney will attempt to cast doubt on the training and actions of the CSI at the crime scene. Every step taken and all evidence developed by the CSI are subject to be tainted by the same doubt. This also creates the possibility that lab results will be mitigated to some degree. Defense attorneys who are successful in creating that level of reasonable doubt in the minds of those in the courtroom may prevent the lab analyses from being presented to the jurors or the judge. The documentation of a crime scene investigation starts with the initial call assigning the CSI to respond to a crime scene and continues through every aspect of the response. On-scene operations and actions taken before and during the CBRNE CSIU operations must be painstakingly documented. The completed crime scene investigation signals the end of the documentation process. The Recon Entry is the first exclusion zone operation conducted by the CBRNE CSIU group. After the Recon Entry Strike Team has thoroughly monitored, screened, and documented the environment of the exclusion zone and it has been deemed safe to continue the recon mission, the Recon Entry Strike Team will begin documenting the physical appearance of the exclusion zone crime scene and plain view evidence, CBRNE/TIC evidence, and forensic evidence. The three methods of documenting the physical appearance of the scene and evidence are written notes, photographs, and sketches. Written documentation is a very detailed written description of a crime scene. While written documentation can be very exact (e.g., using measurements to list the precise location of an item of evidence), in most cases you will not know exactly where the evidence or other items described in the scene are located within a crime scene without a visual reference of the scene. 195

2 196 Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones In this environment writing notes is very cumbersome and requires specialized pads and pens to do so. In most cases it is more advantageous to communicate this information via the radio to the group s communication officer so that it can be captured on paper in the support zone. In some locales, all radio transmissions are recorded and can be digitally transcribed to create the written narrative. Photographic documentation is a two-dimensional representation of a crime scene. Photographs provide the reader of written documentation with a visual reference of the scene. However, photographs contain some degree of spatial distortion, because they present a single-point perspective and may therefore mislead the viewer as to the spatial relationships of the information portrayed in the photograph. In contaminated environments you will have to utilize specialized photographic equipment, or a combination of computer software and hardware, as well as communications equipment to safely transmit the photographic images out of the exclusion zone. Finally, sketching documentation is a two-dimensional representation of a crime scene. Of the three methods of documenting a crime scene, sketches drawn to scale provide the viewer with the most defined or clearest understanding of the spatial relationships of a crime scene and the important information contained within it. Sketches tie together all information presented in the written and photographic documentation and can be used in many aspects of a criminal investigation. For example, CSIs may pre-plan many of the steps in the FBI 12-step process during the operational briefing. Detectives may also utilize the documentation to pinpoint the locations of witnesses and suspects and to assist in their debriefings. For operations conducted in CBRNE/TIC crime scenes, sketches of the scene may have already been prepared by the PSST or plans may have been obtained by the Incident Command Staff. If these pre-drawn plans are available, the CBRNE CSIU group can obtain copies and prepare one set to safely enter and exit the exclusion zone with the Recon Entry Strike Team. The D/A member of the Recon Entry Strike Team will be responsible for taking these plans or sketches into the exclusion zone to verify accuracy so they may be used for the crime scene investigation. If the plan or sketch is not accurate it cannot be used, and the D/A member will then be required to prepare an original crime scene sketch. To prepare a plan or sketch of the crime scene in a CBRNE/TIC contaminated crime scene, the D/A member will need the following supplies or equipment (depending on availability): standard paper and pencils with transparent packaging, specialized pads and pens that require no packaging, ruggedized laptop computer with CAD software, total stations, scan stations, GPS units, and other measuring devices. The D/A member is responsible for all the documentation methodologies previously described and receives assistance from the Recon Entry Strike Team

3 The Documentation 197 operator and facilitator. Upon completion of the environmental monitoring and screening the Recon Entry Strike Team will perform the following tasks: D/A member: Notifies command that Recon Entry Strike Team is continuing the recon operations. Completes long-range or overall photographs of the crime scene (see Figure 9.1). The D/A member steps up and has the operator and facilitator follow behind. Photographs the exclusion zone crime scene. Notifies command when the photography is completed. Note: Given the intelligence provided by the PSST, many of the photographs that the CBRNE CSIU Recon Entry Strike Team need to take can be preplanned and documented on a photo log in the support zone, prior to proceeding to the exclusion zone. The Recon Entry Strike Team can use this photo log as a guide while in the exclusion zone. Figure 9.1 CSIU document/admin member taking long-range photographs with a deconable camera.

4 198 Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones The photographic methodologies employed for CBRNE/TIC crime scenes will be the same as those used for conventional crime scenes to include longrange or overall photographs, medium-range or evidence positioning photographs, medium-range or evidence positioning photographs with evidence numbers and scales, and finally, close-up photographs with evidence numbers and scales. It should be noted that the CBRNE/TIC samples identified by the PSST will be among the first pieces of evidence identified, documented, and screened by the CBRNE CSIU Group s Recon Entry Strike Team as the concerns of transient properties and safety issues are the highest priorities. Typically CSIs will perform an assessment of all the evidence located in the crime scene. The CSIs will determine whether the evidence is in danger of being contaminated or cross-contaminated, destroyed or lost, or displays transient properties, and whether there may be safety issues associated with the evidence. Once the assessment has been completed, the evidence that was deemed to be endangered, transient, or to have a safety issue will be documented, screened, collected, processed, and packaged first. D/A member: Upon completion of the long-range or overall scene photographs, begins the medium-range or evidence positioning photographs of all the identified plain view evidence, starting with the first item of evidence as numbered by the operator and reported to command as the assignment is completed (see Figure 9.2). Figure 9.2 Medium-range photos being taken with a deconable camera.

5 The Documentation 199 Figure 9.3 Operator places evidence markers after medium range photos are taken. Facilitator: Aseptically provides the evidence numbers and scales to the operator. Operator: Completes evidence assessment and places evidence numbers and scales next to all the identified plain view evidence (see Figure 9.3). D/A member: Upon completion of the evidence numbering by the operator, begins the medium-range photographs with evidence numbers and scales of all numbered plain view evidence (see Figure 9.4). Begins with the first item of evidence as numbered by the operator and report the photographs to command. D/A member: Upon completion of the medium-range photographs with evidence numbers and scales, begins close-up photographs of all the numbered plain view evidence (see Figure 9.5). Again, begins with the first item of evidence as numbered by the operator and report the photographs to command. D/A member: Upon completion of the close-up photographs with evidence numbers and scales, the D/A member produces a sketch of the crime scene or verifies the accuracy of a plan or sketch brought into the exclusion zone. Plots all the identified plain view evidence on the sketch or plan and reports this information to command. Operator: Obtains measuring device (tape measure, electronic measuring device) from the facilitator or assists in the setup and operation of the high-end measuring and plotting equipment (total stations, scan stations, or GPS). Obtains the dimensions or measurements of the

6 200 Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones Figure 9.4 Taking medium-range photos after evidence markers have been placed in the scene. Figure 9.5 D/A member taking close-up photographs of physical evidence. crime scene for the crime scene sketch or plan and the measurements of the location for identified plain view evidence (see Figure 9.6). Facilitator: Retrieves the measuring device from the equipment bins and aseptically passes it to the operator. If high-end measuring and

7 The Documentation 201 Figure 9.6 Operator taking measurements of evidence location in exclusion zone. plotting equipment (total stations, scan stations, or GPS) is being used, assists in the setup and operability of the devices. Assists in obtaining the dimensions or measurements of the crime scene for the crime scene sketch or plan and the measurements of the location for identified plain view evidence. D/A member: Reports the location, position measurements, condition, and all other identifiable physical characteristics of all the identified plain view evidence, starting with the first item of numbered evidence, to command (see Figures 9.7 to 9.9). Operator: Aseptically returns the measuring device to the Facilitator or assists in the dismantling of the high-end measuring and plotting equipment (see Figure 9.10). Facilitator: Aseptically obtains the measuring device from the operator or assists in the dismantling of the high-end measuring and plotting equipment. D/A member: Reports the results of the measurements and plotting to command. Upon completion of the measuring and plotting of the scene and all the plain view evidence, the Recon Entry Strike Team will continue with its recon mission by screening the CBRNE or TIC evidence. There may be additional documentation in the form of written notes and photographs associated with this screening.

8 202 Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones Figure 9.7 Measurements must be relayed to command for documentation purposes. Figure 9.8 Electronic measuring devices may also be used to document evidence location in the exclusion zone. Figure 9.9 Documenting the crime scene with a Scan Station 2.

9 The Documentation 203 Figure 9.10 Packing up ruggedized laptop for transport out of the exclusion zone. Documentation is not limited to the recon operation, but will be associated with all decon operations, evidence recovery and processing operations, evidence custodian operations, search operations, final survey operations, and the final briefing associated with ending the crime scene phase. These areas of documentation will be covered in subsequent chapters.

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