Documenting the Scene
The purpose of a crime scene investigation is to discover what happened, how it happened, when it happened, determine the areas that show what happened, and who did it, or who committed the crime.
In furtherance of this goal, forms are used in the documentation of scenes. Everything can't be included on every form, therefore forms vary from department to department. They're used not as substitutes for thinking, but as reminders of important steps to take in scene examination. Anything discovered that's not listed on the form can be added. Six categories of documentation are generally recognized as being applicable to any scene, however. The six follow:
A general worksheet — for recording all activity at the scene that relates to when, what, where, and how evidence is collected and packaged, and possible suspects
Scene description worksheet — for recording a narrative of the general, overall description of the crime scene and any impressions elicited from it
A diagram/sketch log — for showing an overhead view of the entire scene, the location of physical evidence, as well as the distance of each piece of evidence from other objects in the scene
Photographic log — for recording photographic views of the scene — specifically, overall or distant, medium, and closeup views of the scene and objects in it
Latent print lift log — for documenting the collection, marking, and packaging of latent print lifts and the location in which they were found
Evidence log — for documenting the collection, marking, and packaging of all evidence
A thorough documentation of any crime scene would include such observations as weather conditions; lighting; whether objects and furniture are out of place, disturbed, or destroyed; whether windows, curtains, and doors are open or closed; whether doors or windows are broken or display tool marks; whether emergency or medical teams have moved anything in order to work on a victim; and whether anything seems to be missing or might have been brought in and left by an offender.