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Essay Example on Criminal Investigation

6 pages
1453 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Criminal investigation helps find solutions within a crime scene and administer justice to people affected by the act. Law enforcers undertake the investigation so that they can prove that someone did a wrongful act against the state or fellow citizens (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). Qualified personnel with knowledge of how to track a person or people who did the crime are involved in the criminal investigation process. The team of experts has tools, ideas, and other additional equipment that helps them solve in the shortest time possible. The recent developments in the field of crime have seen changes on how criminal investigations take place. This has affected the quality of evidence that investigators come with once they engage in finding out prove (Loeber & Farrington, 2012). This has continued to develop over time, as it has not always been this way. Some of the significant developments in the criminal investigation over the past 200 years include the use of prints from fingers, palms, or feet, tools of the trade like cameras and videos, gloves, identification using DNA evidence, and magnetic fingerprint brushes.

The use of prints from fingers, palms, or feet is one of the best developments in the criminal investigation process that has helped law enforcers discover leading information to offenders. Every individual on earth has a unique fingerprint. Once captured in electronic records, it becomes easy to trace the criminal since they might have touched some of the things around the crime scene (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). This uses the automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) that is quick and fast and brings connecting evidence collected against a list of a database of fingerprints in a region. It becomes easy to locate someone who committed the crime as long as the evidence collected matches the stored information in the database (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). Use of technology in the criminal investigation has assisted law enforcers as they find out leading information within a short time and can start searching for the offender. A criminal investigation that used fingerprints to make a lead happened in 2002 in the Beltway Snipers where more than ten people had lost their lives to unknown assailants. Officers would collect fingerprints at the scene of the accident and identified that a group of two people did all the crimes (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). Members of the public were also attacked randomly, and fingerprints collected on both the dead bodies or injured individuals were necessary for the case. After about a month, collected fingerprints were run through a database. It provided incriminating evidence, which led to the arrest of Lee Malvo, who helped the police officers in identifying the accomplice.

The development of assisting tools of the trade in criminal investigations like cameras, videos, and audiotapes has helped investigators gather incriminating evidence at a crime scene. Cameras that can produce colored images within a short time have helped officers take photos of a crime scene as evidence. Use of cameras and videos is important as it assists officers in having storable data about an activity. It means that even after a length of time, images collected at the investigation stage can make a lead in court cases. In addition, storage of videos of a crime scene may help investigators discover a new element of evidence when they replay in the office and might have missed it when collected other times of leading suggestions. Officers in the criminal investigation unit wear a body camera that records the activities taking place. One of the infamous cases that helped gather evidence happened in 2014 when William Abrams body camera, an officer, recorded activities that took place in a residential area (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). Two men were raping two women and after their criminal acts, attempted to escape when they noticed an officer had seen them, they started firing at him. This was strong and backed up evidence that leads to the arrest of the criminals as the officer called for backup from the headquarters (Douglas et al., 2013). Chasing the offenders was the only daunting task since the evidence was in place. The officers' narration of what transpired was important as it matched what the videos recorded from the body cameras.

Another development is the use of gloves in a crime scene is important as it assists and protects investigators from leaving their fingerprints on evidence (Loeber & Farrington, 2012). Protective gloves are also important for the officers as they help prevent injuries that may take place when handling different objects. In addition, a crime scene might have biohazards and infectious viruses that may affect officers as they gather evidence (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). Officers understand that evolvement of biohazards may affect their health if they do not take the precautionary measures. In addition, officers can wear protective boots and masks if they are investigating a crime where there is the emission of harmful gases in the air (Osterburg, & Ward, 2010). One of the infamous cases where gloves and other protective gear like masks and boots, were used in the criminal investigation process in 2008 during the Amerithrax scenes hen officers discovered that lawbreakers had used laced letters. Officers had to wear gloves when handling letters as there was a risk of the biohazard substance affecting them if they had direct contact. Previously, more than five people had lost their lives, and others got injuries after handling some of the letters unknowingly (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). The laced letters were addressed to strategic people in the country and led investigators to understand the 9/11 attack that had hundreds of people losing their lives.

Another development in the area of criminal investigations is in the use of DNA evidence. The advancement of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) as a criminal justice tool has seen courts solve cases presented to them with ease and within a short time as long as there is evidence. Criminal investigators involve the police medical department in a case and collect any form of evidence that may link an individual to the crime (Douglas et al., 2013). Criminal investors use DNA when there is a suspect and want to prove them guilty or innocent and compare their genetic combination with that collected at the crime scene. However, when officers have had no suspect arrested to help in the investigation process, the DNA information is collected (Loeber & Farrington, 2012). Later, comparison with what police have in their databases allows the investigators have more leads to a crime. In 1987, after the forensic department introduced the idea of using DNA in helping officers collect evidence at a crime scene, the court found Tommy Lee guilty of committing rape. Investigators had helped collect semen samples from the rape victim and matched them with Lee's DNA. However, the limitation of the introduction of DNA was that it took longer to bring results, which has since been solved due to the development of technological ideas in the medical field (Loeber & Farrington, 2012).

Another development in the criminal investigations is in the use of magnetic brushes to collect data (Osterburg, & Ward, 2010). Criminal investigators used magnetic based powders with an applicator that helps gather evidence at a crime scene. The powerful magnetic field enables officers to rub items of interest that might have evidence in both horizontal and vertical ways to help collect evidence in a case. Officers can use black powders as catalysts or other colors as long as the magnetic brushes are firm to rub against different surfaces. In some cases, investigators used spray powders, which helped limit the application of the solution on a surface. In 2012, officers from Omaha helped solve a 30-year old impending case where a man was killed, and police had collected evidence and stored it (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). It included imprints of their palms and fingers. Tracing back the evidence collected earlier revealed that a magnetic brush would help identify the offender. The suspect was held in prison for other crimes, but there was no evidence to tie him to the murder cases. Officers used magnetic fingerprint brushes on items he used and matched it with the records on their databases proving that Jerry Watson had committed the crime. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.



Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct. Routledge.

Douglas, J., Burgess, A. W., Burgess, A. G., & Ressler, R. K. (2013). Crime classification manual: A standard system for investigating and classifying violent crime. John Wiley & Sons.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017, November 27). Welcome to Retrieved November 28, 2017, from

Loeber, R., & Farrington, D. P. (Eds.). (2012). From juvenile delinquency to adult crime: Criminal careers, justice policy, and prevention. Oxford University Press.

Osterburg, J. W., & Ward, R. H. (2010). Criminal investigation: A method for reconstructing the past. Routledge.

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