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Crime investigations

Communications, verbal or nonverbal, is an essential feature of crime investigations. It allows police investigators to decipher the knowledge of possible witnesses. Nonetheless, communication, especially nonverbal forms of communications (gestures and bodily expressions), may lead police investigators to pinpoint the true intent of the offender (this is especially important in murder investigations).

However, in the stages before the trial of a suspected offender (in this case, the suspected murderer), the police officer assigned to investigate in a particular murder investigation would have to undergo the “rough” rudiments of communication problems with the witnesses, other police officers, with the suspects (especially on the interrogation stage), the officers of a local court, and generally the law enforcement agency. For the meantime though, when a murder is committed, the first thing the detective faces is the list of potential communication barriers when he/she gets out of the car (to the murder scene).

Potential Communication Barriers Here are some of the potential communication barriers in the first stage of the investigation (getting out of the car – before starting to talk to people). The investigator may experience what is called “muddled messages. ” Before an investigator arrives, he/she is usually informed of the time and place of the crime. In the case of muddled messages, place and time determination is insufficient for the receiver (the investigator) to pinpoint the exact location of the crime, that is, situational intent.

It is very important for an investigator to know precisely the time and location of the crime, for this generally helps him/her hypothesize on the circumstances of the crime scene. The next potential barrier is called “stereotyping. ” Stereotyping causes one to characterize a person, a group, event or a thing on oversimplified conceptions (Erven, 2001). Set of characteristics are imposed upon a particular entity before clarifications are made. When an investigator gets out the car and goes to the crime scene, he/she may experience stereotyping.

At the event the investigator sees a person or a group of persons, he/she may conclude “that this or that person is a possible suspect in the crime. ” This will generally remove or reduce the objectivity of the investigator. The last problem is called “wrong channel. ” In this type of problem, once the investigator gets out of the car, it may be inappropriate for him/her to utter words that are typically out of context. If he greets the persons close to the crime scene with “good morning”, most of them would not be willing to share information in the following stages of investigation.

To counter these problems, only one rule should be applied: the investigator should, in any means, not show any form of gesture or bodily expression. This would give him/her an atmosphere of objectivity and a sense of authority (Erven, http://www-agecon. ag. ohio-state. edu/people/erven. 1/HRM/communication. pdf). Impact of Nonverbal Communication with Other Police Officers, Witnesses, and Suspects Nonverbal communication with other police officers, witnesses, and suspects must be differentiated. For the other police officers, the gestures of the investigator must be business-oriented.

The investigator is in the crime scene in order to decipher the events that occurred before, during, and after the crime. Unnecessary gestures like smiles and eye movements are generally applicable only to police officers but not to witnesses and suspects. There are three reasons for such. First, smiles and eye movements may trigger unexpected moves for suspects. The suspects may “suspect” that they are considered by the police investigator as an accomplice to the crime, and for such as the primary “offender.

” If this is the case, information salient to the resolution of the crime may be withheld. Second, in the case of witnesses, various interpretations of smiles and eye movements may also result to withholding of important information. And the worst case scenario, witness misinterpretation of the gestures of the police investigator may result to unintended consequences. The witness may interpret that the police investigator regards him/her as an accomplice or the primary offender in the crime. Again, information is withheld, making the case more difficult and time consuming.

Lastly, smiles and eye movement in psychology are treated as personal reactions of a person to a particular event, and in this case, may be interpreted by the witnesses or the suspects as signs of affirmation of their involvement in the case. For the other police officers, these are generally non-essential features of a crime investigation. In short, this is part and parcel of police business. Added to that, smiles and eye movements (with meaning) of the police investigators directed to other police officers may serve as a background check for the specifics of the case. Interviewing Process of Witnesses

Interviewing witnesses is an essential feature of crime investigations. Information is the key to solving crimes, and as such may be held by only key persons, in this case, the witnesses. However, interviewing witnesses requires a set of implicit and explicit norm to be followed. They may be personal or businesslike in orientation. Whatever the case, the important thing is to elicit necessary information from the witnesses. However, witnesses are not uniform in their physical and mental conditions, and as such require a special set of guidelines. Interviewing a man with a hearing-deficiency follows a general format.

Here is the procedure as stated in the Policeone website. 1) “Speak appropriately, not too fast or too slow. Avoid over-enunciation. Volume doesn’t help. Yelling distorts the face and makes lip-reading difficult; 2) Speech reading or lip reading cannot be relied on as only 30 percent to 35 percent of the English language is visible on lips; 3) Get the person’s attention with a tap on the shoulder or by a wave of the hand; 4) Convey concern with notes and gestures. Say things such as “Stay calm” or “I am here to help”; 5) Provide physical or visual guidance as needed” (Read, 2006).

For the child, the simple rule is: Say to the child that “this” is all part of a great play. This will rule out doubts on the part of the child regarding the genuine intention of the investigator. Ask the child of his/her feelings of the “play. ” Ask the child who were the actors in the play. Remember that children can easily depict the specifics of the crime scene as much as an adult person can. The difficulty though is exhibited when interviewing gang members. Naturally, they will refuse to be interviewed for fear that the “offender” may direct retaliations on them.

The rule though is little complicated: Offer the gang members a sort of protection, a sort of guarantee that if the “offender” launches retaliation moves on the gang, the police will be there to protect them. However, if one of the gang members is the “offender” in the crime, this will cause trouble. The whole gang may not respond to the suggestions of the police investigators. If this is the probable situation, the police investigator may give pictures of the murdered person/s to the gang members and ask them whether they know that person/s.

After taking the pictures, compare the fingerprints of the interviewed gang members with the fingerprints procured in the crime scene (Brown, 2001). This will help determine whether one or two (even the whole gang) was involved in the crime. Technology Used in the Investigation and Ethical Issues Involved There are typical forms of technologies used in investigating crimes. Some are generally obvious; others are new methods of affirming a person’s participation in the crime. Here are some examples of technologies used: 1) First is fingerprint validation. The method was described earlier.

Suspects are offered a set of pictures to glimpse on. After which, the fingerprints are procured and compared to the fingerprints found in the crime scene. If they matched, then there is a high probability that the persons asked were involved in the crime, in one way r another. 2) There is technology in forensic science known as “facial structuring” technique. If the identity of the murdered individual is difficult to pinpoint, the computer will examine the facial features of the victim and compared to the data-base of the agency (realigning the victim’s picture in the data-base to his/her actual picture in the crime scene).

Matches can be confirmed depending on the size and extent of the agency’s data-base. 3) Another method used what is “pheromone. ” This is a substance that triggers a natural behavioral from the same species. This is usually exhibited by insects and other lower forms of animals. When applied to crime investigations, insects found in the crime scene might release chemicals during the crime. Therefore, the scent is traceable if there were other persons (except the victim) who were present in the crime scene.

There are, however, ethical issues that should be considered before any investigation (or in the manner of doing so) can be conducted. Here are some ethical considerations: 1) The first ethical consideration that should be considered is the method of acquiring fingerprint. Remember that the procurement of fingerprint other from the crime scene may sound a little unethical, especially for those in the legal profession. In court hearings, they may request the court to declare such evidence as illegal. 2) The other ethical issue involves the legality of pressuring witnesses to “become” witnesses of the crime.

Although in this case it is not a significant issue, it may be in future cases. Report Anne Colin was murdered in her apartment last July 17, 2007. She was found dead in the living room at around 6 am. Forensic experts estimated the time of death between 1-3 am in the same day. There are generally a couple of potential witnesses in the crime. The landlady said she overheard Anne quarreling with someone on the phone about 10 pm. The janitor saw one of Anne’s friends talked to her at about 11 pm, and then leaving by 12 am. Fingerprints were found all over the crime scene.

The thing is that the fingerprints belong to at least five people, indicating perhaps that Anne was murdered by 2 or 3 people. However such assumption is not entirely correct for it was reported that many people come and go to Anne’s apartment (her friends). This can only be verified by fingerprints in the dead body of the victim. However no fingerprints (except the victim’s) were found in the dead body. Fingerprints though were found in the knife utilized to kill her. In this case, we may be able to resolve the case. The Arrest of the Suspect

Fingerprints from the knife used to kill Anne Colin belong to a certain Jose Chavez, a Mexican migrant (in the US), who was a former janitor of the building (where Anne’s apartment is located). Interviews with local residents indicated that Chavez have a long fiery grudge against the landlady of the building, for terminating his employment (while his wife was in a state of coma). Chavez vowed to return and would destroy the whole apartment (the murder scene was not the result of robbery since no things were stolen). The landlady kicked him out of the building.

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