critical to the case. For this reason, you must begin the search of a crime scene with determination and alertness.
A successful crime scene search produces a comprehensive and nondestructive accumulation of all
available physical evidence within a reasonable period of time. It should minimize movement and avoid
unneeded disturbance. You can search a scene using one or more of four methods: the circle search, the strip
search, the grid search, and the zone, or sector, search. Your choice of method is determined by the intent of the
search and by the area to be covered. In rooms, buildings, and small outdoor areas, a systematic circle search is
often used. In large outdoor areas a strip search, followed by a grid search, is more useful. After mentally
dividing the area into strips about 4 feet wide, the searcher begins at one corner of the main area and moves back
and forth from one side to the other, each trip being made within one strip. The grid search covers an area in the
same way, but the searcher moves from end to end. Both indoor and outdoor areas may be searched using the
zone or sector method.
Figure 2-1 gives you a visual representation of the various methods of search. The types of search patterns
Zone or sector search.
RECORDING THE CRIME SCENE
Notes are your personal, and most readily available, record of the crime scene and of your investigative
process. No rule exists concerning the detail the notes should reflect. Your objective should always be to make
notes that will be fully meaningful months after the event. Remember that a note that is clear to you a short time
after it is written may be unintelligible later. Do not expect to rely on your memory of associated events to give
single word notes their full meaning.
Note taking should begin with your notification of the case and continue until the investigation is
completed. Supplement your notes with photographs, and sketches. Record your notes in the order that you
receive information, take actions, and make observations. The sequence of your notes should be logical and
Your notes aid in the accurate recall of events for testimony in court and they furnish raw material for your
written report on the case. Your formal written report may not need the level of detail or items of information that
are needed for your testimony. The details you record in your notes should anticipate both the needs of the
written report and the questions you may be called on to answer for attorneys or members of a court.