Upon discovery of a crime, it is essential that the crime scene remain undisturbed so that important evidence is preserved for investigators. Often times, well-intentioned security officers and employees inadvertently destroy the integrity of the crime scene and make it difficult or impossible for a scientific investigation to be conducted.
The following is suggested:
- The police should be immediately notified upon the discovery of an apparent crime.
- Security officers and other employees should assume that criminals might still be on the premises until it has been conclusively proven otherwise.
- The first security officer arriving at the scene should approach it slowly and methodically. The officer should note (preferably in writing) the exact time that the incident was discovered and gather as many details as possible about what was observed. Some things that should be noted include: odors, position of doors and objects in the room, lighting conditions, unusual or out-of-place objects, and people who were in or near the crime scene when it was discovered.
- The security officer should disturb things as little as possible except as necessary to render aid to the injured or to prevent further damage. Special attention should be paid to the floor since this is one of the best sources of physical evidence and one of the most easily contaminated.
- As few security officers as possible should enter the crime scene. Once an initial determination is made that a crime has been committed, security officers should back off and wait for the police.
- The crime scene should be immediately secured and no one should be allowed to enter the area until law enforcement personnel arrive. Understandably, there will be great curiosity on the part of other security officers, management, and other employees, but is essential that the scene be kept pristine until investigators arrive.
- A written log of anyone who enters the crime scene should be kept. The log should include the person’s name, address, and telephone number and a brief description of when they entered and left the crime scene and what areas they may have disturbed. This log should include the names of people who originally discovered the crime, as well as any responding emergency personnel.
- Advise anyone who may want to enter the crime scene that, by doing so, they may be subjecting themselves to requests from investigators to gather their fingerprints, hair samples, blood samples, clothing, shoes and other evidence.
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the crime should also be gathered. Isolate witnesses from each other and other persons until the police arrive.
- Once the immediate crime scene has been secured, other areas of interest (surrounding corridors, walkways, likely entry points, etc.) should also be cordoned off to the extent possible until investigators arrive.
- Eating, drinking, or smoking should never be allowed at a crime scene.
- Security personnel should not attempt to access recorded video images until specifically directed to by the police. In no case should ongoing recording be stopped once the crime has been discovered.
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