A series of burglaries have recently been perpetrated. You will be assigned to one of six cases as a detective. The crime scenes have already been secured by officers on the scene. Your job is to:
Document everything that happens at the scene of the crime using the forms linked below, and use the tips on this web page and the checklist and crime report sample below to aid you in your investigation.
First Responder Reports
Click on the picture below to download reports from the first officers on the scene of each crime. Complete these initial reports with your own observations of the crime scenes and documentation of interviews that you conduct. Notice how the first responder reports are written objectively. Try to emulate this style of writing in your own reports.
Examining a Crime Scene
After talking to first responders at the scene of the crime, you will be responsible for examining and documenting the crime scene. Follow the steps and tips below to successfully examine and document the crime scene.
- Download a copy of the crime scene notes.
- Sketch out a top-down view of the crime scene and label all objects clearly.
- Conduct a thorough search of the crime scene with your team of detectives using a specific search pattern (parallel, grid, or zone). Use tags and sticky notes to mark any areas where there is potential evidence.
- Take observational notes on any potential clues.
- Record the exact location and take clear photographs of any potential evidence.
- Once all of your team members are done, collect evidence from the scene of the crime using the evidence collection form. Note the tag location of each piece of evidence.
- Use your notes to complete sections 2 and 3 of your crime scene report. Don't forget to write objectively!
According to The Innocence Project (2008) "Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing." As a result, you must conduct your witness interviews carefully. Use the following tips to plan out the questions you ask your witnesses and analyze their responses.
- Age plays a role in memory recall. Young children (age 10 and below) and elderly (age 60 and above) do not recall events as accurately as adults.
- People are better at recognizing faces of their own race. This is known as the cross-race bias.
- The more time a witness has to view an event, the better his or her recall is of that event.
- Faces that are highly attractive or unattractive are more recognizable than faces that are considered average or normal.
- Distinctive markings like body piercings and tattoos make identification of people more accurate.
- The time of day and street lighting may affect how well a witness can see events.
- A person who is familiar with an area is better able to recall the specific locations of suspects.
Use open-ended questions when interviewing suspects to try to determine if each suspect had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
- A suspect has the means to commit a crime if they have the necessary skills and physical abilities to accomplish the crime.
- A motive is a reason for committing a crime. Why would your suspect want or need to commit the crime?
- Opportunity is whether or not the suspect had the chance to commit the crime. Opportunity can be disproved if a suspect has a strong alibi for where they were when the crime happened.
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