Friday, October 07, 2011

Guest Blogger: LISA BLACK

This week, forensic scientist and author Lisa Black answers a question we have all asked ourselves: why are there so many people in uniforms just standing around at any crime scene or accident?

First of all, any scene serious enough to warrant crime scene tape will have one officer there to record who enters the scene and who leaves, and when. That is their entire job. They can’t perform other duties and be absolutely sure about personnel going back and forth at the same time. Also officers will be stationed, one in front, one in back (at a minimum) to make sure no unauthorized person enters the scene. Otherwise an attorney will say someone snuck into the scene and planted the evidence that implicates their innocent client. If you are that client, you want that scene secured. In other words, once we leave we cannot come back, so these officers will remain there until we have done everything we think might possibly need to be done, which could be hours to days. The PIO may be gathering information to give to the press. The traffic homicide investigator willl be noting skid marks and taking measurements. Then you have people like me, who spend a lot of time walking out to my vehicle and back to get various pieces of equipment as I need them. I may be waiting for a co-worker to finish videotaping before I go inside to photograph, during which time they will wait outside for me. I may be waiting for a co-worker to bring some unforeseen piece of equipment from the station. We could all be waiting for a search warrant, which, though detectives will tell you they’ll have it in twenty minutes, always takes several hours. We also have to wait for the Medical Examiner’s Office investigator to arrive before we can touch or move the body. The crime scene is our jurisdiction, the body is theirs, and they cover three counties, so if they’re having a busy day we have to work around their schedule, almost always an hour or more. Higher-ups may arrive in order to do what they should do: get their butts out into the field to see what their subordinates are doing. Almost always they are disciplined enough not to enter the scene if it is not necessary, so they will be standing out by the road. Yes, some may be those who simply wanted to get out of the office or those who feel the need to stick their nose in to everything, but believe it or not, that’s fairly rare.

So yes, as in any aspect of human life, a large part of crime scene or accident work means standing around and waiting.

Lisa Black’s fourth book Defensive Wounds was released by Harper Collins on September 27. Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean battles a serial killer operating at an attorney’s convention. Lisa is a full time latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida.

Visit Lisa Black online

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