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How Investigation
ErinMidterm Essay
s Are
1. What are methods of inquiry and how are they used in criminal investigation?

2. What is the optimal mindset of an investigator and how are the concepts
associated with the optimal mindset of an investigator manifest?

3. What is the scientific method and how is it applied to criminal investigation by

criminal investigators?

4. Discuss four important sources of information for criminal investigators and

provide detailed practical examples of each source listed.

2. The act or process of investigating.

3. 2. A detailed inquiry or systematic examination
4. the act or process of investigating; a careful search or examination in order to discover facts,
5. investigational adj

How are methods of inquiry used in criminal investigation?

who, what, where, when, why and how

we often begin with an inquiry or a question about something we have observed. We want to know what
makes something happen or if two events are related to each
Other. There are several ways to investigate these questions.

one begins with an observation.. From the observation, a scientist will form a
hypothesis. Our hypothesis might be, as said before, that students who spend more
time outside get higher scores on standardized tests. A scientist will then establish
an experiment in which all variables except one are held constant. The results of
the experiment are observed and will either prove or disprove the hypothesis. Either
way, the observations made in the experiment will serve to provide a basis for
future inquiry and scientific study.

Another method of inquiry is the tenacity method. In this method, beliefs are based on
superstition or prior beliefs without question.
The final method of inquiry is the intuition method, in which one believes something because it
feels correct or seems to make sense. Oftentimes intuition is based on a single example.
While the scientific method of inquiry is by far the most reliable of the methods presented here,
it is important for students of science to understand the non-scientific methods as well.
Understanding non-scientific methods allows a scientist to understand why the general public
believes what they believe and can therefore make it easier to convince people to believe new
findings. It is also important to understand the non-scientific methods to ensure that they do not
affect any research the scientist may be performing. The scientific method of inquiry may be the
preferred method, but the others are still crucial to the understanding of how people think.
During the 1950s and the 1960s Joseph Schwab thought it best to put seventh and eighth grade students
straight into the laboratory.

This method allowed students to learn to inquire, test a hypothesis, collect data, develop models and
analyze historical cases.

This "new" methodology helps students to realize that science is more than just learning facts. What
education wants to do is to help them organize the information they already have. Then they add new
information in an organized manner to intersect with their existing knowledge.

This learning procedure also utilizes interacting with other students to try and hone the correct answer.

What we see then is that in the past students were actually locked out of learning for themselves. They
were told what to learn and further what the right thing was to learn. This did not allow them to develop
their skills of observation and further it did not force them to show the reasons why they believed what
they believed. After all if you are told something is right how can you turn around and tell someone else it
is right? All you really have is someone else's word for it.

However as with all new methods there are rumors as to why they will not work. They have been proven
wrong but it is important to be aware of them.

One misconception is that scientific inquiry is the application of the scientific method. Scientific inquiry is
not a "certain number of steps."

Another erroneous thought is that students must come up with their own unique questions. Some
students will and some students won't. The idea of the scientific inquiry method is to give those kids who
will come up with new questions the opportunity. It also gives kids the opportunity to asses existing
information in their own way.

detective’s responsibilities and the personal

attributes that are required for success. A brief history of criminal investigation follows
(touching on a sometimes less-than-honorable past). Part A concludes with a look at the
trends and future developments that are likely to occur.
The three principal sources of information in criminal investigation (physical evidence,
people, and records) are studied first from the standpoint of what information
may be obtained and why it can be of help. Then, because understanding physical
its development, interpretation, and investigative use—is fundamental, some
familiarity with criminalistics is recommended. The crime scene—its limits, the purpose
for a search, legal constraints on the discovery of physical evidence—are presented
Finally, the other appropriate sources of information are considered: people (criminals,
victims, witnesses, friends) and records (public and private
Principal of parsimony is when a person looks for the simplest explanation for the incident that

happened. Specification of what exactly is going be done and how it is going to be done.

Describe the incident by identifying what crime was committed (who, what, where, when, why

and how). Build your assumption or theory based on information and evidence gathered.

Review the facts even if they are not consistent or even if they are consistent, with your guess or

assumption. While the collection of data continues the suspect will start to revile themselves.

Once probable cause has been attained, arrest the suspect. Provide the prosecution with all the

evidence and data about the case for court.

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Phone: 866-488-7755 Fax: 806-993-4534
What is a criminal investigation? In order to effectively conduct or perform criminal investigative
functions, one must understand the basic definition of; investigation and investigate. An investigation is
an examination, a study, a survey and a research of facts and/or circumstances, situations, incidents and
scenarios, either related or not, for the purpose of rendering a conclusion of proof. When one investigates,
he/she makes a systematic inquiry, closely analyzes and inspects while dissecting and scrutinizing
information. An investigation, therefore, is based upon a complete and whole evaluation and not
conjecture, speculation or supposition.
Is it really that simple and straight forward for the criminal investigator? Is it so clearly defined or so
black and white? Law Enforcement, the entity charged with the responsibility to accurately close the gap
between fact and fiction, detect and prevent criminal acts; and in doing so are mandated to function
within strict administrative and legal parameters. It is true that one must understand the basic
definitions, however, the scope of the criminal investigator reaches far beyond that of mere definitions.
Crime detection and investigation is both an art and a science; a collaboration of common sense,
judgment, intellect, experience and an innate intuitiveness along with a grasp of relative technical
knowledge. The criminal investigator must continually apply those skills, acquired through study and
experience, to the examination and observation of the criminal and his behavior, as well as his social and
physical environment.
When the most basic of Law Enforcement functions: the preservation of life, the protection of property
and the maintenance of peace, are not substantially realized, the investigative process must then be
undertaken. The aim of this process is two fold; first, the investigator will attempt to identify and safely
apprehend the violator and secondly, produce him/her before a proper court of law. Of course there is
much going on behind the scenes, so to speak, while attempting to achieve these not so simple objectives;
identification, apprehension and prosecution.
Criminal investigations are conducted primarily for the prevention of crimes. When crimes occur, Law
Enforcement is responsible to the community it serves and must discharge it’s duty by immediately
investigating such incidents. Ideally the investigation will cause the violator to appear before a court so as
to answer for his/her behavior. Ultimately and probably most important, is that the investigation,
detection and apprehension of the criminal, effectually serves to curtail recidivism thereby reducing
overall crime.
There are several basic types of investigations that Law Enforcement personnel may undertake in the
routine discharge of their duties:
 Investigations of incidents, which are violations of laws and/or ordinances that include; criminal acts
(robbery, assaults, larceny, burglary, murder, illegal weapons, etc…) and traffic accident investigations
(serious injuries, likely to die, property damage).
 Personnel investigations into the background, character and suitability of persons in an effort to
determine their eligibility for positions of public trust.
© 2006 Worldwide Law Enforcement Consulting Group, Inc.
 Investigations of illegal conditions or circumstances, which if left unchecked would cause an increase in
traditional crimes. These conditions may include the following: narcotics sales, illegal weapons
trafficking, vice type crimes (prostitution, gambling), street gang activity, organized crime, terrorist front
activities, fraud and con games, identity theft and computer crimes. Although many of these conditions
would dictate self-initiated investigations based upon intelligence rather than reacting to a citizen crime
complaint, there are however, times that investigations will in fact result from such individual crime

What does the investigator attempt to obtain during his/her investigation? The answer is information.
What does the investigator hope to develop as a result of obtaining or gathering this information? The
answer is evidence. All investigations, regardless of purpose, involve the task of gathering and evaluating
information. The investigative process should be viewed in terms of gathering information, rather than
attempting to obtain evidence. This is not to say that an investigator should overlook obvious items of
evidence or items that can potentially become evidentiary in nature. The process should be conducted
with the mindset that from information comes evidence. It is important to point out that the information
that forms the basis for evidence that is ultimately presented during court proceedings represents only a
small fraction of the total information gathered during the investigative process. The information
gathered is subjected to intense scrutiny before it ever reaches a courtroom via examination, evaluation
and screening. This scrutiny takes place at several levels during various stages of review: at the Law
Enforcement stage, usually by ascending supervisory ranks within the investigative infrastructure and,
depending upon the seriousness or news worthiness of the incident, the administrative echelon; this is in
addition to the prosecution stage which includes the initial writing of the complaint, the arraignment
process through grand jury proceedings and pre-trail hearings up to and during the actual trail. Much of
the evidence gathered by Law Enforcement investigators is not acceptable for presentation in court due to
the rules of evidence. This, however, does not preclude these pieces of information from assisting the
investigator insofar as guiding him/her toward what will be acceptable evidence; all information
possesses some degree of value.
There are two primary sources of information: people and things. These are so different that the process
of gathering and evaluating each type requires specific knowledge and skills. Basically, the criminal field
investigator engages the human element: all of the emotional, psychological, environmental, and
sociological aspects of human behavior. The crime scene technician/investigator or the laboratory based
scientist deals with inanimate objects that are unable to mislead, lie or fight. The tasks of the criminal
field investigator and the technician are closely related and somewhat dependent upon one another
insofar as that each participant must have a fundamental appreciation of one another’s duties and
responsibilities. Although these tasks are functionally related, they are in fact different in and of
themselves and thereby necessitate the capability of distinct skills, disciplines and techniques. This is not
to say that one task is more important or more difficult than the other.
The investigator must be cognizant of the limitations and capabilities of the crime lab and its technicians,
as well as accepted protocols, in order to properly process potential evidence. The investigator, while
submitting physical things to the crime lab for examination, does not forfeit the responsibility and duty of
attaining an expertise in the recognition, collection and preservation of physical evidence. The extent and
value of information obtained from physical items examined, greatly depends upon the ability of the
investigator at a particular scene to recognize potential evidentiary matter. It should be noted, that when
comparing the value of information obtained from physical items versus information derived from people,
the courts have historically established that information obtained from physical items usually reflects a
higher evidentiary value. The criminal investigator should always remember that physical evidence cannot
lie, it is not affected by emotions and it cannot be impeached. © 2006 Worldwide Law
Enforcement Consulting Group, Inc.
The criminal investigator must continually be aware of the “Theory of Transfer”; when two objects meet,
some effect of that meeting can be established and verified at a later time. An awareness and
understanding of this theory will help the criminal investigator navigate the sometimes complex
investigative process and hopefully curtail and/or prevent the inadvertent destruction or the failure to
recognize and preserve evidentiary materials. This contact between objects includes people, things or a
combination of such. For instance, consider the following basic examples: as a result of an automobile
collision; the transfer of paint, broken glass, metallic or plastic particles, or rubber, to another automobile
and/or a pedestrian or vehicle passenger; as a result of an assault; a weapon that makes physical contact
with a person transferring blood, hair, skin or clothing fibers to the weapon and/or the perpetrator, or the
shape (impression) of the instrument used as a weapon, left on an object or person struck. The
possibilities are potentially endless and can be as simple as merely, unwittingly, walking through a crime
scene. When an object or person; an investigator, a victim, a perpetrator or a witness enters a crime scene,
something is brought into the scene and something is removed or taken away from the scene.
Since “investigation” is the process by which one seeks and ultimately (hopefully) finds answers to the
questions; when, where, who, what, how and why (NEOTWY), and knowing that information is the key
that unlocks those answers, it is incumbent upon the criminal investigator to constantly recognize,
develop and maintain current productive sources of information. The criminal investigator must know
where to locate information that is needed to successfully conduct his/her investigation. One of the most
crucial and blatantly obvious sources of vital information is the crime scene. One must understand that
not all investigations involve or include an actual crime scene. Although most criminal acts begin and end
at some point and some where; a crime scene in the traditional investigative sense, does not exist or is not
practical or material to locate, identify, preserve and process in certain criminal circumstances. With that
said, let us focus on the traditional tangible crime scene within the context of the most common criminal
acts; homicide, robbery, assault, burglary, sexual assault, etc… The crime scene is the central location of a
crime and usually the starting point of an investigation. This, however, is not to say that there are not
additional or secondary scenes which, dependant upon the type and to what extent a criminal has
perpetrated a crime, could be quite varied and numerous, spanning a great distance over a protracted
period of time. These scenes contain physical traces of the criminal, the victim(s), weapons, tools, latent
prints, DNA, and serological matter, etc… The value of the crime scene as an investigative resource is not
permanent and is often environmentally sensitive which can result in rapid deterioration of potential
evidence. The most basic and fundamental rule relating to crime scene protocol mandates the protection
against contamination and destruction before and during processing. If nothing else, protect the integrity
of the scene. The information obtained from a crime scene can afford the criminal investigator proper
direction during the overall investigative effort.
Often times, in addition to the forensic information derived from the crime scene, people are the engine
that drives the information machine; especially when there is a considerable lack of tangible evidentiary
items available. An investigator is continually tested and evaluated by his ability (or lack thereof) to obtain
information from people; perpetrators, victims, witnesses, confidential sources and general acquaintances
alike. The importance of this investigative resource should not and cannot be ignored. The investigator
must be able to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life regardless of social and/or
economic standing. This talent or art takes some practice and is often refined with experience. Law
Enforcement personnel in general, will be well served to remember that they should know the people who
live, work and frequent their area of assignment and to never compromise themselves (morally or
ethically) when attempting to illicit information from criminals and/or other less scrupulous individuals,
no matter how well intentioned.
The criminal investigator must remain objective and open to different perspectives when
conducting an investigation. He/she should follow the facts wherever the facts may lead
them and not attempt to fit certain facts to the exclusion of others into a pre-determined
conclusion. One must always look beyond the obvious and seek the truth.

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Police: Criminal Investigations - Sources Of

Information And Evidence In Criminal
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As noted earlier, the major problem for the police in conducting criminal investigations
is determining the utility of the information (evidence) collected. While much
information may be discovered or otherwise available to the police, only a small portion
of it may be accurate, complete, and relevant, and hence useful, in establishing the
identity (and/or whereabouts) of the culprit. As discussed below, not all types of
information are equal in this regard—some types of evidence are usually more useful
than others.

Information from physical evidence. Physical evidence is evidence of a tangible

nature relating directly to the crime. Physical evidence includes such items as
fingerprints, blood, fibers, and crime tools (knife, gun, crowbar, etc.). Physical evidence
is sometimes referred to as forensic or scientific evidence, implying that the evidence
must be scientifically analyzed and the results interpreted in order to be useful.

Physical evidence can serve at least two important functions in the investigative or
judicial process (Peterson et al.). First, physical evidence can help establish the elements
of a crime. For example, pry marks left on a window (physical evidence) may help
establish the occurrence of a burglary. Second, physical evidence can associate or link
victims to crime scenes, offenders to crime scenes, victims to victims, instruments to
crime scenes, offenders to instruments, and so on. For example, in a homicide case, a
body of a young female was found along a rural road. Knotted around her neck was a
black electrical cord (physical evidence). The cause of death was determined to be
ligature strangulation via the electrical cord. Upon searching the area for evidence, an
abandoned farmhouse was located and searched, and a piece of a similar electrical cord
was found. This evidence led the investigators to believe that the farmhouse may have
been where the murder actually occurred. Further examination of the scene revealed tire
impressions from an automobile (more physical evidence). These tire impressions were
subsequently linked to the suspect's vehicle.

Most forensic or physical evidence submitted for analysis is intended to establish

associations. It is important to note that physical evidence is generally not very effective
at identifying a culprit when one is not already known. Typically the identity of the
culprit is developed in some other way and then physical evidence is used to help
establish proof of guilt. Possible exceptions to this pattern are fingerprints (when
analyzed through AFIS or Automated Fingerprint Identification System technology) and
DNA banks. With AFIS technology, fingerprints recovered from a crime scene can be
compared with thousands of other prints on file in the computer system at the law
enforcement agency. Through a computerized matching process, the computer can
select fingerprints that are close in characteristics. In this way a match may be made and
a suspect's name produced.

DNA printing allows for the comparison of DNA obtained from human cells (most
commonly blood and semen) in order to obtain a match between at least two samples.
In order for traditional DNA analysis to be useful, a suspect must first be identified
through some other means, so that a comparison of samples can be made. However,
emerging technology involves the creation of DNA banks, similar to the computerized
fingerprint systems, in order to compare and match DNA structures. There is little
question, as technological capabilities advance, so too will the value of physical

Information from people. Beside physical evidence, another major source of

information in a criminal investigation is people, namely witnesses and suspects.
Witnesses can be classified as either primary or secondary. Primary witnesses are
individuals who have direct knowledge of the crime because they overheard or observed
its occurrence. This classification would include crime victims who observed or who
were otherwise involved in the offense. Eyewitnesses would also be included here.
Secondary witnesses possess information about related events before or after the crime.
Informants (or street sources) and victims who did not observe the crime would be best
classified as secondary witnesses.

A suspect can be defined as any individual within the scope of the investigation who may
be responsible for the crime. Note that a witness may be initially considered a suspect by
the police because information is not available to rule him or her out as the one
responsible for the crime.

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Besides the basic information about the particulars of the criminal event and possibly
the actions of the perpetrator (to establish a modus operandi), another important type
of information often provided by witnesses is eyewitness descriptions and
identifications. Such information is quite powerful in establishing proof—for the police,
prosecutor, judge, and jury—but the problem is that eyewitness identifications are often
quite inaccurate and unreliable (Loftus et al.). Research has shown that many factors—
such as environmental conditions, physical and emotional conditions of the observer,
expectancies of the observer, perceived significance of the event, and knowledge of the
item or person being described—can significantly influence the accuracy of eyewitness

Hypnosis and cognitive interviews are two investigative tools available in the interview
setting for the purpose of enhancing memory recall, and thus enhancing the accuracy of
eyewitness information. Hypnosis is typically viewed as an altered state of
consciousness that is characterized by heightened suggestibility (Niehaus). For the
police, hypnosis is used as a method of stimulating memory in an attempt to increase
memory recall greater than that achieved otherwise. While the use of hypnosis has
increased sharply in the 1990s many courts have refused to admit such testimony
because of accuracy concerns, or have established strict procedures under which
hypnotically elicited testimony must be obtained (e.g., interview must be videotaped, the
hypnotist should know little or nothing about the particulars of the case, no other
persons are to be present during the interview, etc.). Most problematic is that under
hypnosis, one is more responsive to suggestions (by definition) and thus, the hypnotist
(intentionally or not) may lead the subject and inaccurate information may result. Once
again then, information is produced but it is unknown whether the information is
Another method used to enhance memory recall among witnesses involves the use of the
cognitive interview (Niehaus). A cognitive interview is designed to fully immerse the
subject in the situation once again, but through freedom of description not hypnosis.
The subject is instructed to report everything he or she can think of no matter how
trivial it may seem. The witness may be instructed to recount the incident in more than
one order. The intent is to allow for a much deeper level of recollection than the
traditional interview. Research has shown that the cognitive interview approach elicits
significantly more accurate information than a standard police interview, which
typically involves frequent interruptions of explanations and descriptions, includes
many closed-ended and short answer questions, and involves the inappropriate or
overly strict ordering of questions (Niehaus).

In contrast to interviews of witnesses, interrogations of suspects are often more

accusatory in nature. Usually interrogations are more of a process of testing already
developed information than of actually developing information. The ultimate objective
in an interrogation is to obtain a confession (Zulawski and Wicklander).

For obvious reasons, offenders have great incentive to deceive investigators.

Understanding this, there are several tools available to investigators who wish to
separate truthful from deceptive information. First is the understanding of kinesic
behavior, the use of body movement and posture to convey meaning (Walters).
Although not admissible in court, information derived from an understanding and
interpretation of body language can be quite useful in an investigation. The theory
behind the study of nonverbal behavior is that lying is stressful and individuals try to
cope with this stress through body positioning and movement.

Although no single behavior is always indicative of deception, there are patterns

(Zulawski and Wicklander). For example, a deceptive subject will tend not to sit facing
the interrogator with shoulders squared but will protect the abdominal region of the
body (angled posture, crossed arms). Major body shifts are typical especially when
asked incriminating questions; and use of manipulators (or created jobs) are also
common among deceptive subjects (e.g., grooming gestures), as are particular eye
movements (Zulawski and Wicklander).

Much like nonverbal behavior, verbal behavior can also provide information about the
truthfulness of a suspect. For example, deceptive subjects tend to provide vague and
confusing statements, talk very soft or mumble, provide premature explanations, focus
on irrelevant (but truthful) points in an explanation, or may claim memory problems or
have a selectively good memory. Of course, interpretations of nonverbal and verbal
behaviors in terms of deception must consider individual, gender, and cultural
differences in personal interaction.

The polygraph is a mechanical means of detecting deception. The polygraph is a

machine that measures physiological responses to psychological phenomenon. The
polygraph records blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and electro-dermal reactivity
and changes in these factors when questioned. Interpretation of the resulting chart
serves as the basis for a judgment about truthfulness. Once again, the theory is that a
person experiences increased stress when providing deceptive information and the
corresponding physiological responses can be detected, measured, and interpreted.
While this general theory is well founded, the accuracy of the polygraph depends largely
on the skill of the operator and the individual who interprets the results of the polygraph
examination (Raskin). No one can be forced to take a polygraph and polygraph results
are seldom admissible in court. Often investigators threaten suspects with a polygraph
examination in order to judge the nature of their reaction to it, or to induce a confession

I do the work of an investigator in an anti-corruption agency. I have found this material very
useful. I would be very please, if I could get other materials pertaining to criminal investigations.
I thank the author for this useful article.

Read more: Police: Criminal Investigations - Sources Of Information And Evidence In

Criminal Investigations http://law.jrank.org/pages/1656/Police-Criminal-
• http://law.jrank.org/pages/1654/Police-Criminal-Investigations-Criminal-
• http://law.jrank.org/pages/1659/Police-Criminal-Investigations.html
• http://www.crimeandclues.com/index.php/crime-scene-investigation
• http://www.crimeandclues.com/
• http://www.youtube.com/user/CrimeAndClues#p/c/BF49F173D4A67E05/7/
This text presents the fundamentals of criminal investigation and provides a sound method for reconstructing a
past event (i.e., a crime) based on three major sources of information: people, physical evidence and records.
More than a simplistic introductory text, yet written in an easy-to-read, user-friendly format, it offers a broad
approach to criminal investigation.”


This is really