Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Civilian Police Academy - Class 6

What I'm reading: Cards Never Lie by Heather Hiestand; Contest entries

What I'm writing - Chapter 31.

Last night our first speaker was a detective from Homicide, a very lively speaker who was obviously very much in love with his job. The department has 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 10 detectives, plus a field service officer and a crime analyst, who helps with getting out bulletins and making sure the interview transcripts are done, and all the other paperwork sort of details. On any given call, it's likely that the detective and partner plus a supervisor, and the CSI's are all on the scene, which means many eyes and opinions to interpret what's there.

The department is responsible for all homicides, suicides, accidental deaths, in custody deaths, and deputy involved shootings. There is now a separate child crime unit for dealing with anything involving children.

Again, unlike CSI on tv, the detectives are in charge of the case. The lead is responsible for everything, no matter who might have dropped the ball. Too many times, the detective "knows" who committed the crime, but can't prove it. The CSI's are integral in collecting the evidence that can back up the case, but they don't interact with the suspects. They gather the evidence and take it to the lab.

The hard ones are the "who done it's" such as random drive-by shootings where there are no witnesses, or none will step forward.

On the scene, which is usually dealt with by a uniformed patrol officer, the first order is the officer's safety. Once the scene is clear, preservation of life is next. This means that even if a deputy is involved in the shooting, he still tries to keep the victim alive. Next is preservation of the crime scene and notification of the detectives and CSIs.

The crime scene belongs to the detective; the body belongs to the Medical Examiner and can't be touched until the ME has been there.

We learned about rigor, lividity and using insects to determine time of death.

Suicides are also investigated as homicides, although a scene will be handled by 1 detective and 1 CSI. These cases usually get the most complaints from family, because they don't want to believe a loved one committed suicide. The detectives handle suicides as thoroughly as homicides. There were over 200 suicides last year.

We got to see photos of crime/accident scenes and tried to determine what had happened.
We also watched a video of two teams passing a basketball. Our instructions were to concentrate only the the team in the white shirts, and to count every time the ball hit the floor or was passed to another person, and to ignore the black shirted team, which was there to distract us. Of course, all but two people in the class totally missed the guy in the gorilla costume who walked right across the court.

Overall, the department has a 60% clearance rate, which they are proud of. No case, however, is ever closed, and they may have cases on their desks for 10 years, always looking for another lead. These are the ones that the detectives live with, that come back and stay in their heads.

Most of their leads come from the local anonymous Crime Line phone number. The $5,000 reward helps, too!

He also pointed out some "general" statistics, such as the majority of their cases are drug related.

Before he left, he showed pictures of crimes against children. I don't even want to discuss what horrific things people will do these innocents.

Next time - part two of the class: Domestic Violence.

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