Friday, April 20, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lessons ~ Murder, Mess and Crime Scene Investigations

What we learned at Citizen's Police Academy...well, two pages of notes later, writing as fast as I could, I say quite a bit.

I asked & and she said she learned that what you see on television is not necessarily true. And she's bummed. I think she's kidding. However, there is some truth in her statement.

We had the detective division and Crime scene investigation question and answer session last night.

In a word, fascinating. But, maybe not so fascinating that it can turn into a hit television series.

The detectives are called in when there is a reason that the uniform division can't clear up a case or situation. An obvious example would be a corpse and no clear reason to assume natural death, or the evidence of a violent death. The detective stated that when they are called in, they assume guilt and that a crime has been committed until evidence shows otherwise.

The majority of the detective's time is spent in interviewing and questioning. The detective spends a whole lot of time on this for some cases. Our local team of detectives is broken into divisions, and they each juggle twenty-five cases (give or take) a month, and each case may take a few to several months to dot all the i's and cross all the t's. Oh, and the average case may contain something alone the lines of 3000 pieces of paper. (Reports, findings, documentation.) He said when things get really crazy he'll have to ask return phone calls which case they are involved with. 

We went through the details of a solved murder case. From the two 9-1-1 calls, to the crime scene photographs, to some important clues, we saw the overview of the process the detectives went through. The lecturer was kind enough to remove the slides that showed the eviscerated gut of the victim. We all learned a very special lesson about Miranda laws, too. However, the killer had loose lips with more than just the arresting officer, and his confession was admissible in the court of law...since he'd told several people about his conquest, walked around in public with blood on his clothes, and a knife hanging out of his waistband.

The next topic of the evening was crime scene investigation. Once again, not real glamorous. The majority of her job is photographing, photographing, photographing. She told us that shows like CSI are entertaining. Really entertaining. But they often depict one person doing the job of ten different people. And shows like that help the public to expect miracles. Crime scene handling has more down and gritty leg work than miracles. And fingerprinting...well, it's great if they can get em and there are lots of variables and science involved in getting one. 

One of her more surprising comments was that she thought she could handle anything without getting rocked when she was going through her master's level courses. Iron gut, a fascination with science and detail, she thought she could be detached and professional. Even though she said she's never had a work related nightmare, she finds that she gets more bothered the more time she's exposed to the harshness of life and death.

Both the Ident-tech (evidence gatherer CSI person) and the detectives mentioned that one never gets used to the smell of a decomposing body. One classmate asked about the Vick's under the nose trick. One of the detectives said that Vick's opens up your sinuses letting more of the stench permeate and that he was told to get a hospital style face mask and put a drop of essential oil inside of it. But, he also said he'd not tried either. On a side note, all the slides of murder scenes showed some pretty pathetic housekeeping issues. One place had tires stacked in the living room. One of our classmates leaned over..."I think your odds of being murdered go way down if you clean your house." So let's all take that to heart.

As for me, I'm pretty sure I'll be content with what I saw tonight. I don't need to see it up close and personal. I'd probably toss some lunch at my first exposure to a bloody tube sock. I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't want to work in the evidence department.