Crimes can happen in a variety of settings, ranging from populated areas to deserted stretches of highway. In addition, some crimes may occur in areas where outside factors, like water, weather or fire, play a role in impacting the evidence that remains. Depending on the investigators available, the type of crime committed and the presence of these complicating factors, the method of searching the crime scene may vary.
Chain of Custody
It’s essential when examining a crime scene that proper chain of custody procedures are followed. Chain of custody refers to the path that evidence must follow to ensure it is not tampered with or in any way altered. Proof of proper chain of custody procedures allow evidence to be admitted to court. If there is evidence that chain of custody measures were not followed, it is possible that certain evidence may be thrown out.
Search Methods Forensics
In addition, crime scene investigators should be sure that forensic investigations occur before items are touched or moved. In most instances, investigators only have a brief time to look at a crime scene. In addition, once evidence has been moved or touched, it becomes much more difficult to solve the crime. The introduction of additional fingerprints or other forensic information can complicate matters greatly.
Zone Pattern of Crime Scene Search
The zone pattern of crime scene search is one of the many methods for searching crime scenes. It involves whoever is running the crime scene investigation to split the area into zones and assign each zone to one investigator. Once each zone has been checked, the individuals swap and check each other’s work to ensure nothing has been missed.
Grid Method of Crime Scene Search
The grid method of crime scene search involves splitting the crime scene into a grid pattern. First, investigation work is done from left to right and then re-done from top to bottom. In this way, every area is explored more than once to ensure that nothing is missed.
Parallel Search Pattern Method
The parallel search pattern method of crime scene search involves each member of the investigation team starting at one side of the scene and working in parallel lines to one another, across the crime scene, until they reach the other side.
Inward and Outward Spiral Methods
Another crime scene search method involves a spiral, either moving inward or outward. In an outward spiral, investigators start in the middle of the crime scene and work in a spiral motion to the outer edges. In contrast, an inward spiral investigation involves starting at the outermost edges of the scene and working in a spiral motion toward the middle.
Strip Method of Crime Scenes
The line method crime scene investigation technique, also called the strip method, requires that investigators stand in a line, then begin to walk parallel to one another across the crime scene. Once they have concluded their investigation and reached the other side of the scene, they turn around and walk back, following the exact same path they had walked on the first pass. In this way, they see each part of the crime scene twice and are less likely to miss anything.
Wheel Method of Investigation
The wheel method of crime scene investigation involves each member of the task force standing in the center of the area. Then, each moves outward from the hub of the wheel, working her way toward the circumference or perimeter of the scene. One point of caution with this method is to avoid too much commotion at the hub, since having too many investigators moving or touching things at the center can cause damage to evidence before it can be photographed, noted and cataloged.