Incident Scene

The search of the incident or crime scene is in many cases the most important part of any investigation. Non-violent offenses such as employee theft will normally not involve a crime or incident scene. Crimes of violence however do involve physical contact with the victim and the immediate surroundings. Traces of the criminal may be left in the form of clothing, shoe impressions, fingerprints, blood stains, damaged furniture, etc. A trained investigator will be able to visualize the way in which the criminal carried out the offense. Samples of clothing, carpet, hair, human bodily fluid, fingerprints, etc., may all remain as part of a crime scene.

The Survey

For most security officers, they will not be responsible for conducting an investigation. However, their initial observations can greatly aid in a more thorough investigation carried out by a trained investigator. The best advice at this preliminary stage is to stand back and attempt to determine what occurred based upon initial impressions. The security officer should determine how he or she will physically enter and exit the area without disturbing the evidence. At this time the security officer may want to decide what photographs will be taken of the scene.

The Search

A method should be utilized when preparing to search an incident scene. A plan of search should be formed which will cover all of the ground. A security officer should carry a notebook and pen in order to draw or sketch diagrams.

Methods of Search

If the incident occurred indoors, the search will be dictated by the size and shape of the room and its contents. When the scene is outdoors, various methods of searching can be utilized. One or more persons can assist in a search if it is orderly. One person, usually the lead security officer or security supervisor, should assume a leadership role in directing the search.

Strip Method

With the strip method of searching, an area is blocked out in the form of a rectangle. Three searchers are used, A, B, and C, who proceed slowly at the same pace along paths which are parallel to one another. When a piece of evidence is found, all searchers should stop until the evidence is properly stored for safekeeping.

Spiral Method

The three searchers follow each other in the path of a spiral, beginning on the outside and spiraling in toward the center.


The security officer should use his or her imagination as well as thoroughness in conducting the search. Every possible form of entry and exit the criminal may have used needs to be identified.


After the main search has been completed the security officer will want to take some time in evaluating the evidence in relation to what is known about the incident. Questions such as the following should be asked:

  1. What exactly does the evidence prove?
  2. What other evidence must be looked for to support the initial evidence?
  3. What can be said regarding the incident based upon the information which has been obtained?