Crime Scene Investigation – Part 1



Most crime-scene investigations begin with a 911 call to police. A communcations officer, or dispatcher, receives the call and obtains as much information about the crime as possible, such as the caller’s name and address, weapons involved, number of victims, and the suspect’s name and description.

The dispatcher relays the information to the next available uniformed patrol officer. Patrol officers are normally the first officers to arrive on the scene of a crime.

The first officer who arrives is normally in charge of a crime scene until she is relieved of that duty by a superior officer or a detective.

Patrol officers must quickly assess a scene and determine if they should call for additional back-up, EMS, detectives, supervisors, medical examiner, crime scene technicians, and other necessary personnel. They also give emergency first aid, if needed.


Patrol officer responds to emergency call.

When a patrol officer approaches a crime scene, he does so with caution. He must be certain there are no hidden dangers, such as a concealed suspect, no dangerous gases or chemicals, downed power lines,  and booby traps. Booby traps are quite common with houses and areas occupied by drug dealers.

Once officers determine that all is safe and that a crime has indeed occurred, they call for investigators. Patrol officers must secure the crime scene and protect evidence by keeping everyone outside until investigators arrive. Patrol officers are also responsible for obtaining the initial information – name, address, phone numbers – from witnesses.

A crime scene is secured until investigators arrive.


Detectives normally take charge of all major investigations.

Tomorrow – Crime Scene Investigation – Part 2.


27 replies
  1. Elena
    Elena says:

    That current list of places that the FBI enjoys lurking would bring a huge grin to the countenance of good ol’ J. Edgar! Lovely high profile stuff.

    The international spread is interesting – I’m old enough to recall the CIA getting bent out of shape if the FBI so much as thought about the possibility of stretching beyond our borders. And, Congress backing them up.


  2. Peg H
    Peg H says:

    Had I been writng out the invites yours would’ve been on the top of the pile. Unfortunately, even with great speakers like you they tend to skip at least a year in between invites…uh oh I hope they wait to invite you back when the conference is back on this side of the state I can’t go next year! 🙁

    Peg H

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Peg – True, but there’s something else.

    I’ve cut way back on the number of conferences I’m speaking for this year. I did sixteen last year and the travel was awful. Besides, you guys didn’t invite me.

  4. Peg H
    Peg H says:

    {there’s a point about the donut picture}

    Anything and everything found at a crime scene is evidence. 🙂

    I did listen to you in your sessions. Wish you were going to be at Pennwriters again this year.

    Peg H

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Peg – You always seem to raise such interesting points. The FBI does have a special National Academy for local law enforcement. There’s normally a pretty long waiting list for prespective attendees. In fact, it’s pretty difficult for the average officer to attend. Your husband was lucky to get in. It’s a wonderful program of undergraduate and graduate studies about law, forensic sciences, etc. Besides, Quantico is a cool place.

  6. Peg H
    Peg H says:

    Lee, Who killed the doughnut? LOL

    In any of your investigations did you work with any military crime investigators? I met one while visiting on a base a few years ago, we had a very interesting conversation when a relative told him I wrote mysteries.

    The FBI also has classes for police officers. I know my husband enjoyed his training at Quantico.

    The life of a cop’s wife is never easy. 😉 I remember when my hubby went through the police academy, often times with a wince or two. When he would come home from his classes I’d hear, “Hey, honey look what I learned tonight.” Yes, I was his practice dummy. One advantage to that is I learned as much as he did.

    Great post as usual Lee!

    Peg H 🙂

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    No, the sheriff’s office would conduct their own investigation unless there’s some special arrangement (or law) requiring them to do otherwise. There are certain areas where the state police do handle all murder investigations, but not very many. Most sheriff’s offices and police departments are more than capable to handle any type investigation.

  8. mnboater
    mnboater says:

    The pictures made me laugh.

    What would the likely scenario be in a rural area, where the county sheriff has already been called to the scene? Would the state police take over a murder investigation?

  9. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Joyce – meet my wife.

    Yes, the FBI does investigate most crimes that occur on federal property.

    Jen – The FBI is always happy to assist when asked, and do. Sometimes, it’s best to include a federal agency when a criminal is crossing multiple jurisdictions because federal officers have nationwide authority. Without their help local detectives would have to involve every single agency in every area where the killer committed a crime. It’s just easier and more efficient to have the FBI on board, or in charge.

  10. Joyce Tremel
    Joyce Tremel says:

    So, who’s the stiff in the photo?

    I’ll add that if a murder occurs in a National Park, the FBI will most likely be involved since it’s federal property. (Otherwise, my protoganist would never have been able to get involved with the hunky FBI agent :-))

  11. jentalty
    jentalty says:

    Thanks Lee!

    What about serial killers? One of my favorite shows is Criminal Minds, and that FBI unit goes where “asked”. And how about things that happen across state lines – same killer, different states. Or if you have a killer who kidnaps their victims and then takes them to a different state and kills them in a particular spot or dumps them in a particular spot? How would that work?

    Still pulling my hair out – but I see green grass and it’s sunny! Sorry. Just saying.

  12. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    The FBI is rarely, if ever, called in to help a local police department with their cases. The only time a department would ask for assistance from the FBI is when they need the use of the vast resources the FBI has to offer. The FBI does not normally investigate local murders unless they involve terrorism and national security.

    Local departments normally turn to other area departments first, such as sheriff’s offices and the state police. I worked for a long time and never once used the FBI’s assistance. I don’t recall anyone else asking for their help, either.

    We did have a drug task force that had one member from the FBI.

    Here’s a list of what the FBI investigates (from their website). You may be surprised.

    1. Counterterrorism
    • International Terrorism
    • Domestic Terrorism
    • Weapons of Mass Destruction
    2. Counterintelligence
    • Counterespionage
    • Counterproliferation
    • Economic Espionage

    3. Cyber Crime
    • Computer Intrusions
    • Online Predators
    • Piracy/Intellectual Property Theft
    • Internet Fraud

    4. Public Corruption
    • Government Fraud
    • Election Fraud
    • Foreign Corrupt Practices

    5. Civil Rights
    • Hate Crime
    • Human Trafficking
    • Color of Law
    • Freedom of Access to Clinics

    6. White-Collar Crime
    • Antitrust
    • Bankruptcy Fraud
    • Corporate/Securities Fraud
    • Health Care Fraud
    • Identity Theft
    • Insurance Fraud
    • Money Laundering
    • Mortgage Fraud
    • Telemarketing Fraud
    • More White-Collar Frauds

    7. Organized Crime
    • Italian Mafia/LCN
    • Eurasian
    • Balkan
    • Middle Eastern
    • Asian
    • African
    • Sports Bribery

    8. Major Thefts/Violent Crime
    • Art Theft
    • Bank Robberies
    • Cargo Theft
    • Crimes Against Children
    • Cruise Ship Crime
    • Indian Country Crime
    • Jewelry and Gems Theft
    • Murder for Hire
    • Retail Theft
    • Vehicle Theft
    • Violent Gangs

    Still, local departments may handle most of the above listed crimes without calling in the FBI.

  13. jentalty
    jentalty says:

    Hi Lee,

    Love the pictures. You always give great pictures!

    During a crime scene investigation – what are the reasons that the FBI would be called in? Thanks!

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