A Guide for General Crime Scene Investigation: Completing and Recording the Crime Scene Investigation
Once the scene has been processed, the investigator(s) in charge of the scene should establish a crime scene debriefing team to complete and record the crime scene investigation. The investigator(s) in charge and team should follow these steps:
- Establish a crime scene debriefing team.
- Complete a scene debriefing.
- Perform a final survey of the crime scene.
- Document the crime scene.
Establish a crime scene debriefing team. Law enforcement personnel and other responders engage in crime scene debriefing to share information about scene findings and ensure the investigation is complete.
The investigator(s) in charge of the crime scene should:
- Establish a crime scene debriefing team, which includes the investigator(s) in charge of the crime scene, other investigators, and evidence collection personnel [(e.g., photographers, evidence technicians, latent print personnel, specialized personnel and the initial responding officer(s)].
Complete a scene debriefing. The debriefing team should discuss the scene. This provides an opportunity for input on followup investigation, special requests for assistance, and to establish post-scene responsibilities.
The debriefing team should:
- Determine what evidence was collected.
- Discuss preliminary scene findings with team members.
- Discuss potential technical forensic testing and the sequence of tests that must be performed.
- Initiate any action(s) identified in the discussion that is(are) required to complete the crime scene investigation.
- Brief the person(s) in charge upon completion of their assigned crime scene tasks.
- Establish post-scene responsibilities for law enforcement personnel and other responders.
Perform a final survey of the crime scene. The investigator(s) in charge should direct a final walkthrough of the crime scene to ensure evidence has been collected and the scene has been processed. A systematic review of the scene ensures that evidence, equipment or materials generated by the investigation are not inadvertently left behind and any dangerous materials or conditions have been reported and addressed.
The investigator(s) in charge should ensure that:
- Each area identified as part of the crime scene is inspected.
- All evidence collected at the scene is accounted for.
- All equipment and materials generated by the investigation are removed.
- Any dangerous materials or conditions are reported and addressed.
- The crime scene is released in accordance with jurisdictional requirements.
Document the crime scene. The investigator(s) in charge must make sure that reports and other documentation about the investigation are compiled into a case file. The case file should be a record of actions taken and evidence collected at the scene. Documentation should allow for independent review of the work completed.
The investigator(s) in charge should obtain the following for the crime scene case file:
- Initial responding officer(s) documentation.
- Emergency medical personnel documents.
- Entry/exit documentation.
- Crime scene sketches and diagrams.
- Evidence documentation.
- Other responders' documentation.
- Records of consent forms or search warrants.
- Reports, such as forensic/technical reports, when available.
Note: This list is limited to crime scene documentation. It should not be considered a comprehensive list of the documents involved in an investigative case file.