Field notes are very important for the law enforcement. This is because they serve as the basis for further investigation. With the information recorded in the field notes, a police officer can use it as a lead on the investigation. Good field notes help the law enforcement to write a comprehensive report that contains crucial information. Whenever a police officer is called to testify in a court of law, they can refer to the field notes to refresh they memory of the incidents. During a trial, the field notes written down by the police officer can also be used as evidence.
When taking field notes it is important to include the personal details of the person being questioned. These include their name, address and contact. A description of how the person looks like should also be included in the notes. In order to differentiate different crimes, a short description of the crime should also be included. All this information is vital since it helps the officer remember what the person being questioned said when they are writing a report. The officer writing the notes should use abbreviations that they can easily identify. The place and time where and when the offense occurs should also be noted. In order to effectively capture the statements given at the scene, the officer should directly quote the person giving the statement. Sketches should also be included in the field notes. The sketches help later in the identification of either a suspect or even weapon used to commit a crime.
Good field notes should not include personal opinions concerning the suspect. The notes should also not include a conclusion about the incident. While writing the note only the relevant information about the incident should be written down. The rest of the information gathered at the scene that is not important to the case should not be written down.
A Staged Crime Scene
When called to a crime scene the investigator should be able to look for signs that indicate whether the scene was staged or not. This is because some suspects commit a crime then stages it to look as if the victim committed the crime himself or herself. A police officer staged a scene to make it look as if his wife had accidentally shot herself while cleaning his pistol. The officer claimed that he was cleaning his pistol before leaving for a while and upon returning found his wife dead and the gun next to her body. The officer also claimed that he the pistol had not been loaded, however, rounds were found in the magazine as well as a live round in the chamber.
In an attempt to try to mislead the investigators, the gun was found next to the victim’s body as well as the materials used to clean the pistol. The cleaning solvent Break-Free CLP was also found on the magazine and a can containing the solvent was also present at the scene. The pistol found at the scene also had residues of the cleaning solvent. A blood-transfer stain, which was similar to the victim’s DNA, was also found on the cleaning solvent aerosol can. All this was in an attempt to prove that the victim was cleaning the pistol when she accidentally shot herself.
The suspect however was not able to mislead the investigators into thinking the woman shot herself. This was after results from a testing proved that the cleaning solvent Break-Free CLP had been used on the pistol after it had been discharged. If the woman had in reality accidentally shot herself, there would have been residue of the cleaning solvent on her hand as well as her clothes. The suspect thought that merely placing the gun near the body of the victim and the cleaning materials would be enough to fool the investigators into thinking that the woman accidentally shot herself.
O.J Simpson Murder Case
O.J Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman but the jury found him not guilty in the year 1995. One of the evidence that placed Simpson at the crime scene was a glove. However when asked to try it on during the trial, the glove did not easily get on. This lead to the defense arguing that the glove, which had been found at Simpson’s house, had been planted since it did not fit.
Another argument that the defense used was that the DNA evidence could not be trusted. This was in reference to the blood found on Simpson’s car, gate and socks. The defense argued that the evidence had not been properly handled and as a result it could not be trusted. The DNA evidence presented by the prosecution proved that Simpson was present at the crime scene but due to the way the evidence had been handled by the police, the defense argued that the results could not be trusted.
Since the O.J Simpson murder case, crime laboratories have greatly improved from the way samples are collected from the crime scene to the DNA processing. Great care is taken during the process of sample collection to the avoiding contamination of the samples. The use of sterile disposable equipment to collect samples and storing them in paper bags helps to avoid contaminating the sample as well as preventing it from DNA degradation. Modern crime laboratories only require a small sample of DNA unlike during the Simpson’s trial. The availability of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) can make enough DNA for testing from a small sample.
Short tandem repeat (STR) markers are used in modern crime laboratories to perform DNA identification. The laboratories also use DNA databases and sample matching to perform the identifications.