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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 221176 Find in a Library
Title: Ten Most Common Errors in Death Investigations Part 1
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:55  Issue:11  Dated:November 2007  Pages:84-89
Author(s): Vernon Geberth
Date Published: November 2007
Page Count: 6
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Part One of the "10 Most Common Errors in Death Investigations" identifies 4 of the errors and offers recommendations for addressing them.
Abstract: One error in death investigations is an improper response to the scene by the officers who arrive first. This typically involves failure to secure the scene and immediate area where the body is found. Associated errors include failure to notify investigators immediately and the failure to monitor and properly supervise medical technicians and paramedics at the scene. A chronological list should be made of all individuals who enter the area where the body is located. Also, any victims should be accompanied to the hospital in order to obtain their statements. A second error is failure to protect the crime scene. Officers who arrive at the scene first should follow the mandates of the acronym ADAPT. "A" refers to the "arrest" of a suspected perpetrator, if possible. "D" refers to "detaining" and identifying witnesses and/or suspects for followup investigators. "A" refers to "assessment" of the crime scene. "P" consists of "protecting the crime scene," and "T" involves "taking notes." A third error is the failure to handle suspicious deaths as homicides. All death cases should be conducted as homicide investigations and the scene handled as a crime scene until the facts prove differently. An investigator should be assigned to every case in which cause of death has not yet been determined by an authorized medical professional. A fourth error in death cases is responding to the scene with a preconceived notion of cause of death. Often the initial report of a death will include an unofficial statement on the cause of death, such as "suicide." The first officers on the scene should not be conditioned to assume that this is in fact the cause of death.
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Crime scene; Death investigations; Homicide investigations; Police responsibilities
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