In major cases with a lot of physical material and a large crime scene, you may want to use a portable tape
recorder. By taping your observations and findings, you can include more details in your notes. In all cases, the
tapes should be transcribed into a written record that you may carry into court.
Keep your notes in a safe place with the local office case file. Even after a criminal has been convicted and
sent to prison there is always a chance that an appeal or other civil action will require your appearance in court
Print your notes if your handwriting is not easy to read. Use blue or black ink that will not smudge easily.
Number each page of notes and identify it with your name, your title or rank, the case number (when known), and
the current date. Also record the times when an action is taken, when information is received, and when an event
is observed. Do not edit or erase your notes. If a you make a mistake, line out the entry, initial it, and then write
the correct information.
Your notes should include a detailed description of the scene and any item you think pertinent to the case.
Your description should be as complete as you can make it.
Record the exact location, giving measurements and triangulation of evidence, where the item was found.
Cite the relative distances separating various items. State the techniques used to collect the evidence and to
record identifying marks placed on the item or the package in which the evidence was placed. Be sure to tell what
techniques were used to provide crime scene security and to search the scene. And include any actions you take
that may have a bearing on the evidence you obtain or significantly affect the investigation.
A picture may or may not be worth a thousand words. But it is certain that photography is a valuable aid in
criminal investigations. Useful photographs can be made without great expertise.
Crime scene and evidence photographs are simply the photographs made to supplement notes and sketches
or to clarify a point relative to a case. They are also made to identify personnel and to form a permanent record of
fragile or perishable evidence. Time is an essential factor. Objects cannot be moved or examined with
thoroughness until they have been photographed from all necessary angles. There are situations in which the
object of interest undergoes significant change with the passage of time. Thus, photographic equipment must be
kept in a constant state of readiness.
Photographs are admissible in court if you can testify that they accurately depict the area observed. The
accuracy of a photograph relates to the degree it represents the appearance of the subject matter as to form; tone;
color, if applicable; and scale. A lens that will accurately record objects and areas in focus may not correctly
portray distances between objects