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Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - Solving Homicides.rtf

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SOC 2760
Rob Shearer

The Murder Book - Chapter 14: Solving Homicides A crime is considered cleared when it is solved - usually deemed to be cleared when the police make an arrest, can be cleared in other ways cleared exceptionally: solved by a means other than an arrest National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) says crime must meet 4 criteria to be 'cleared exceptionally': identity of at least one offender has to be certain sufficient probable cause must exist that would justify prosecution for crime location of the offender must be known must be something that prevents law enforcement from making an arrest Ex. when a murderer kills himself/is killed by police In US, highest rates of homicide cleanse are for cases involving African Americans, lowest rates involving Latinos. Less likely to clear: When victim is older than 65 When homicide is a part of another felony crime More likely to clear: offender is a family member more physical evidence detective has lower caseload Clearance in US has dropped since 1976 79% in 76 , 63% in 2004 Australia clearance rate stable and high: 88% suggesting lower homicides = higher clearance Canada has fewer homicides but also experiencing decreased clearance Scholars suggest decrease in clearance reflects changes in the types of homicide committed homicide committed during the commission of another felony and killings by strangers less likely to be solved increases in these without increases in other types would result in a decreased clearance Dunkers: cases amazing easy to solve, usually because the offender kills himself or is obvious for some other reason What happens early in a homicide investigation may make or break a case the likelihood of solving a homicide decreases with time trail goes cold: witnesses' memories fade, witnesses may be more difficult to locate mistake early can lead to nightmares for prosecutors - critical proper procedure is followed Initial response - vastly important vital info & lives may be lost if the responding officers fail to arrive quickly and perform their duties well three major responsibilities: determine if the victim is dead or alive arrest an offender if one is present and notify appropriate chains of command to apprehend an offender if an immediate arrest is not made take steps necessary to preserve crime scene evidence and detain any witnesses or possible suspects ADAPT - five steps an officer should take arriving at a crime scene suggested by NYPD's Bronx Homicide Task Force retired lieutenant Vernon Gebreth: A - Arrest the offender when possible D - Detain and identify witnesses and suspects A - Asses the crime scene P - Protect the crime scene T - Take notes on everything should be particularly aware of vehicles or persons leaving scene, should note description of anything seen must take note of any possible secondary crime scenes, be aware of anyone in the vicinity possibly related to crime officer safety is important - should use all their senses to asses possible danger and take in info responding officer's duty to follow departmental guidelines like calling backup or supervisors and notifying any other agencies, ex fire department or paramedics upon arrival of medical personnel integrity of the scene must be kept, take note of the name and agency of any medical personnel and the location they take victims if there are victims alive but suffering from life-threatening injuries officer should obtain "dying declarations" officer should, if possible, ride with and record any statements made by persons being transferred to medical facilities. If not, medical personnel should be asked to note any comments made all investigative and medical personnel at the scene should log in and must be willing to provide fingerprints, DNA or other evidence to ensure the evidence collected at the scene is linked to the crime expected to preserve boundaries of crime scene securing any areas where the crime scene occurred, where the victim was discovered, as well as possible entry and exit paths of suspects. physically secured in such a way that unauthorized people and animals are prevented from entering the scene best to secure a wider area than necessary Must prevent from contaminators: rain, snow, wind, sprinklers, helicopters, animals Must follow search and seizure laws obtaining consent and search warrants as necessary If it wasn't started by a homicide investigation the control of the scene is turned over to them, with the initial officer communicating allimportant info to the investigator Investigators need to evaluate and determine if safety practices are adequate and initiate their use if necessary - pathways and scene boundaries are assessed, everyone made aware of changes Staging areas for consultation, equipment and temporary evidence storage must be set and secured When more than one crime scene, must be communication between scenes Search and seizure rules must be followed, warrants must be obtained Police cannot search where a reasonable person would expect to have privacy Must take care not to conduct warrantless searches unless certain conditions are met Lead investigator must determine additional needs - ex specialized equipment, units, and additional investigative resources. Several Supreme Court Cases used as guidelines for establishing rules and regulations in police searches May request a judge or magistrate issue a search warrant that will allow the officers to conduct a search legally. Must show probable cause that specific illegal activities will or have been committed and detailed info about whe the police will search, what they will be searching for, and what they hope to seize. If specifics are wrong can be thrown out Supreme Court has decided police can conduct searches without warrants in
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