Question about processing of homicide scenes

Posted by Sapiens Sapiens
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Hi,
I’m no professional, only studied CJ but love watching crime shows.
What always strikes me in those shows is that ‘first responders’ (such as police, detectives, etc.) always enter homicide scenes, walk around to assess, etc.

I’m just wondering why the crime scenes are processed this way, befor CSI is called in?
Don’t the first responders contaminate the scene and make it more difficult for CSI to process it?
Also, why don’t they at least don some suits and shoe covers before entering, or is this just not shown in those shows?
I’m aware that smaller agencies lack separate CSI and/or other specialized units, and that detectives are trained to perform those tasks, but I’ve always found it odd that apparently, no initial precautions are being taken?
Thank you!

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CSI.AZ CSI.AZ
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Re: Question about processing of homicide scenes

That's in the event that they want to
frame the accused. Lol
csi18 csi18
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Re: Question about processing of homicide scenes

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Depends on what shows you are speaking of. If you mean CSI Miami, its mainly fiction. If you mean The first 48 etc. it could be a couple things. One, some of the shows have staged scenes for various reasons. So, in those instances, its pretty much not accurate. The other thing, and I hate to say it but it is what it is, some of the departments that volunteer to have film crews tag along for a week until they get a "good" homicide to film, are generally egotistical and probably have the propensity to not always do the right thing. I say this because (1st of all I am a CSI with over 15 years) just by the film crew being there, they are "violating" various homicide investigation 101 rules. You cant have film crews trampling through a crime scene. You cant have information found in criminal histories disseminated to 3rd parties...especially if they are not in law enforcement. The list goes on. I only bring this up to point out that the very idea that an agency agrees to the ride along, is a big red flag that they probably are not the gold standard when it comes to proper investigations.

With that said, the questioning of the 1st responders walking around the scene before a CSI is there is 2 part. 1- The primary job of a 1st responder is to protect and render aid. Then to assess the situation and see if there are others in need of help...on and on. They need to trample the scene (as least as possible) to make sure everyone is OK. As a CSI, its cringe-worthy, but the truth of the matter is we want to make sure everyone is OK. If being careful at an active scene is going to get more people killed, the evidence you saved isn't important. Secondly, the 1st responder needs to assess the scene before additional resources are summoned. What may look like a homicide might turn out to be accidental. It would be a waste of resources to call out 30 people to a "homicide" and work it for 3 hours to find that the person broke a vase and severed an artery when they fell ontop of it, and bled out. All because the officer didnt look a little better.

Do 1st responders contaminate the scene? Majorly. Big time. Terribly. They make it frustrating and difficult to process and pretty much destroy or reduce the evidence in doing so. What can be done? Pretty little. An officer responding to a report of a shooting with one person down in an apartment will be the 1st one there. EMS stays outside until it is safe for them. That means the officer is going there as fast as they can and needs to get to that person ASAP. Do they get there and then pull out a pair of nitrile gloves, then put on a bio hazard suit or spend a few minutes to put those shoe covers on? No way. They put their leather gloves on that have been touching 5 years of crime scenes and offender pat downs. They yank the door open, run through the blood on the floor and kick the gun away from the victim because if the victim is losing consciousness, they may not be in the right frame of mind to know its an officer helping them and could think it is still the attacker and he may grab the gun and shoot the officer. So...yeah. It is what it is.  
angelovhell angelovhell
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Re: Question about processing of homicide scenes

Thank you very much for your response!

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to (try to) work a contaminated scene, and you guys/gals don’t get enough credit! 

If you think about it, not only do you have to deal with cross-contamination (I’ve no idea how you manage to separate everything!), but if you enter any scene which needs ‘reconstruction,’ it must make it so much more difficult!

I have Asperger’s, and unlike most people, my brain focuses on details instead of a ‘whole picture,’ so every time I watch one of those crime shows (and yes, even as a non-professional, I can tell how bogus some of them are), I cringe when I try to figure out how CSI can possibly work its way through some of those clusterfucks (excuse my language)!

Well, know that there are people like me who do notice what you and your colleagues must be facing and appreciate what you’re doing, since without you, I wager that many scenes (whether criminal, or accidental, or self-inflicted) probably wouldn’t be solved.

Thanks again for taking the time to clarify for me, I appreciate the education!

On Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 06:33 csi18 [via Crime Scene Investigator Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Depends on what shows you are speaking of. If you mean CSI Miami, its mainly fiction. If you mean The first 48 etc. it could be a couple things. One, some of the shows have staged scenes for various reasons. So, in those instances, its pretty much not accurate. The other thing, and I hate to say it but it is what it is, some of the departments that volunteer to have film crews tag along for a week until they get a "good" homicide to film, are generally egotistical and probably have the propensity to not always do the right thing. I say this because (1st of all I am a CSI with over 15 years) just by the film crew being there, they are "violating" various homicide investigation 101 rules. You cant have film crews trampling through a crime scene. You cant have information found in criminal histories disseminated to 3rd parties...especially if they are not in law enforcement. The list goes on. I only bring this up to point out that the very idea that an agency agrees to the ride along, is a big red flag that they probably are not the gold standard when it comes to proper investigations.

With that said, the questioning of the 1st responders walking around the scene before a CSI is there is 2 part. 1- The primary job of a 1st responder is to protect and render aid. The to assess the situation and see if there are others in need of help...on and on. They need to trample the scene (as least as possible) to make sure everyone is OK. As a CSI, its cringe-worthy, but the truth of the matter is we want to make sure everyone is OK. If being careful at an active scene is going to get more people killed, the evidence you saved isn't important. Secondly, the 1st responder needs to assess the scene before additional resources are summoned. What may look like a homicide might turn out to be accidental. It would be a waste of resources to call out 30 people to a "homicide" and work it for 3 hours to find that the person broke a vase and severed an artery when they fell ontop of it, and bled out. All because the officer didnt look a little better.

Do 1st responders contaminate the scene? Majorly. Big time. Terribly. They make it frustrating and difficult to process and pretty much destroy or reduce the evidence in doing so. What can be done? Pretty little. An officer responding to a report of a shooting with one person down in an apartment will be the 1st one there. EMS stays outside until it is safe for them. That means the officer is going there as fast as they can and needs to get to that person ASAP. Do they get there and then pull out a pair of nitrile gloves, then put on a bio hazard soot or spend a few minutes to put those shoe covers on? No way. They put their leather gloves on that have been touching 5 years of crime scenes and offender pat downs. They yank the door open, run through the blood on the floor and kick the gun away from the victim because if the victim is losing consciousness, they may not be in the right frame of mind to know its an officer helping them and could think it is still the attacker and he may grab the gun and shoot the officer. So...yeah. It is what it is.  


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csi18 csi18
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Re: Question about processing of homicide scenes

Thank you. You are welcome.