Introduction would be familiar with the professional environment.

Introduction

            In comparison to a
forensic scientist, the requirements to become a crime scene investigator are
not as strenuous. People who study forensic science as a degree are often
competing with other hard science majors who are seen as more desirable. The
typical biology degree and chemistry degree often have more science courses
because their curriculum sets them up for prestigious careers and even more
degrees, such as a medical degree or a Ph.D. It is difficult for a hiring
manager to consider an applicant with a forensic science degree more than an
applicant with a general pure science degree since they would like that
applicant to be an expert in court. However, if the forensic science degree
applicant were to already have references and even internship experience with a
crime lab, then the applicant would appear more desirable since they would be
familiar with the professional environment. Where does that leave forensic
science degree applicants who do not have these opportunities? They could go to
graduate school, or they could jump into crime scene investigation.

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Literature Review

Expectations
for Crime Scene Investigation Positions

            Often, police officers act as crime scene investigators since
it is cheaper for agencies. Yet, now that juries are critical about how much
care was taken in collecting evidence and if the evidence found was of good
quality, new police officers given the crime scene processing task seem to have
less knowledge of what to look for in comparison to someone with a forensic
science degree (Julian, Kelty, Robertson, 2012). As Kelty mentions in her article
on the best strategy to hiring quality crime scene examiners, she recognizes
having a degree from a university with solid understanding of principles of
science along with experience in the field are part of the solid skills that an
ideal crime scene examiner would have (2011). The newly graduated forensic
science major looks more favorable than a police officer since they have more
scientific knowledge fresh out of the university versus a police officer fresh
out of the academy. Crime scene investigators are relied on to find evidence
for the forensic science lab to work on, and a newly graduated forensic science
major would have a lot more attention to detail due to their forensic science
coursework, being able to pay attention to trace evidence that an average
police officer without experience would miss (Julian, Kelty, Robertson 2012).
However, this is still an experience-based profession where the more experience
you have had in processing crime scenes, the better performance you have as a
crime scene investigator (Kelty 2011; Groen and Berger 2017).

New
Ways to Study the Scene

            Forensic scientists that want to get better at their
profession from home can study new scientific developments in their spare time.
Crime scene investigators have to rely on what they remember about what to
expect at specific types of crime scenes. This is because it is generally
thought that each crime scene is unique and trying to predict what a criminal
is going to do is not a feasible feat (Groen and Berger 2017). To support this
is to argue against what archaeologists study before they go to an excavation
site where they recognize that there are patterns that can be seen in their
excavations which helps them find their artifacts from the past.

            Archaeology uses science in order to conclude how ancient
people lived. The way they use the scientific involves observing a piece of the
past, making a hypothesis about that piece, experimenting with that piece in
order to collect data for interpretation, analyzing the data, and coming up
with a conclusion. The science in crime scene investigation is done in the same
way, however crime scene technicians are heavily scrutinized due to how
sensitive their casework is. Much of their methods are questioned in court on
if they are even scientific or not, despite archaeologists who do almost the
same thing rarely ever having such a problem. However, archaeologists happen to
have “quantitative and qualitative empirical databases” which are from analysis
of past excavations which they use as research material (Groen and Berger, p.
481, 2017). They have models of what they believe humans did while alive
chronologically, being considered to have reconstructed the past in a way that
is considered acceptable in the scientific community (Groen and Berger 2017). Groen
and Berger’s comparison between archaeology and crime scene investigation
asserts that by applying this way of researching crime scenes into databases
that can be studied for future use, this could help in making crime scene
investigation more scientific by giving something for crime scene investigators
to research while not on a scene, analyze theories on reasons for finding or
not finding certain evidence, and generally help crime scene investigators who
have poor performance in knowing what to look for on a scene (2017).

 Northamptonshire police in the United Kingdom do
have a crime database on their computers consisting of the cases they have
encountered, but they do not use it for knowing what to expect to see at
different types of crime scenes (Adderley, Townsley, Bond 2007). The data they
collect are activity records from crime scene investigators which include the
time and day they started processing the scene, the time and day they finished
processing the scene, the forensic evidence they were able to find, and the
results of the examination of the forensic evidence found. They have the
ability to organize their data through data mining with the cross industry
standard process for data mining (CRISP-DM) methodology and were able to see
how much evidence was collected from the crime scene and whether the evidence
found was useful in the investigation or not in order to determine how well the
crime scene investigator did at processing a scene. Adderley, Townsley, and
Bond already mention in that same article that it has been a recommended data
mining methodology for crime detection (2007). If this police department was
able to analyze their crime scene investigators using a crime database that
they frequently update, pushing law enforcement departments into uploading
crime scene data for crime scene investigators can be done and would benefit
crime scene investigation research.

Methodology

            Groen and Berger
propose a series of steps crime scene investigators could follow in order to
make crime scene investigating more than just extensive notetaking,
documentation, and collecting evidence by applying archaeological research
methods to crime scene investigations (2007). The first thing a crime scene
investigator should be doing is researching crime scenes by learning about the
different patterns you could see in similar crime cases and what also makes
them different from each other, such as the difference between a robbery in a
rural and urban areas along with possible hypotheses for what caused a piece of
evidence to appear in one case that has the same type of hypothetical crime and
not in another one, leading to more questions to learn from. Detailed notes
taken could even help with simulating the crime in order to test out hypotheses.
Also noting the amount of quality evidence recovered by comparing different
crime scene evidence searching techniques and comparing the type of crime
scenes can help a crime scene investigator decide on the best searching methods
in order to find valuable evidence that could be missed. A walkthrough once on
the scene would be the next expected step once called on to investigate which
would consist of heavy notetaking which is normally done at a scene. Yet,
questions should still be circulating the crime scene investigator’s mind and
compare what they see in real life to what they were reading prior to their
arrival on the scene. After walking through the scene, hypotheses about what
happened should be thought about before beginning the part of the investigation
where actions such as recording the locations of evidence using photography,
measuring the space of the crime scene, and collecting evidence should occur
because a crime scene can only be processed once. Note what evidence you think
you might find according to your multiple hypotheses may be and consider if
they need comparison samples such as a control swab. Once you established a
plan, then investigation that involves searching actively for the evidence
using your decided search strategy can be done, which would eventually lead to
documentation and collection. You should have a reason for why you decided on
your actions which would help explain yourself while writing your report later
on, testifying in court, and in adding on to the database for research by other
crime scene investigators. The goal is to be able to reconstruct the scene from
your investigation documentation that you give back to the database. Having
high end technology that can scan while you search the scene would be the most
beneficial, but using mapping techniques that archaeologists use could also
suffice. Making a list of what you found and organizing it by evidence type
would be a side step and can act as a checklist and can help you remember if
certain evidence needs presumption tests and controls. Looking over your notes
after the scene has been investigated, hypotheses can continue to be thought of
and ruled out. Getting a record of the site plan, especially if it is inside
the building should be tried in order to further your analysis and help the
database in the case a crime occurs there again.

 

Problems
with using Study Material

            The problem with
giving research to study prior to going to scenes is that the crime scene
investigator could develop bias and desire to only expect specific evidence
because they were told what type of scene they were going to go to. This is
cognitive bias, specifically “priori knowledge” and they would end up only
searching for evidence that fit their narrative of what happens at such
specific type of crime scene (Resnikoff, Ribaux, Baylon, Jendly, Rossy, p.443,
2015). Ribaux and colleagues suggest that in order to fight such bias, multiple
hypotheses must be thought of, tested if it can be false through analysis of
the scene, until after multiple thought processes where it is difficult for the
remaining hypotheses to be ruled out (2010). By having such high awareness,
this would help crime scene investigators not think only one scenario is
possible because they read about it while researching that type of crime scene.