OBSERVATION & DOCUMENTATION (Lesson 25 of 26)
Arrange for the Collection of Evidence
In any type of incident where an accident or crime has occurred, evidence exists. Sometimes evidence is obvious and apparent and easy to collect. Other times however, evidence is difficult to see and may be difficult to collect. Imagine a theft from an office area.
Evidence could include:
- broken glass
- scratches or dents
- forgotten burglary tools
- torn clothing
Evidence from a car accident may include:
- skid marks
- broken glass
- damaged vehicles
- empty liquor containers
Assuming that all injured parties have been cared for, the security officer must (as discussed earlier) protect all evidence and maintain the integrity of the (crime) scene. Usually, this will entail an officer cordoning or blocking off the area from all bystanders. If evidence may be lost or damaged due to the weather or something else, the security officer should collect the evidence. Care must be used when gathering evidence. Putting additional finger or footprints onto evidence will only serve to delay or impair the investigation. Evidence preservation kits including plastic bags are convenient ways for even novice security officers to succeed in the gathering of evidence which may be destroyed if not immediately recovered. This evidence must be carefully sealed with the name, date and time, and name of the person recovering the material. Evidence must be properly stored and secured for safekeeping.
Report Incident Fully & Accurately
In the manual Effective Report Writing for the Security Officer, specific outlines are presented which assist the security officer in obtaining all the facts necessary to write a clear and accurate report.
Common mistakes made by security officers when writing reports include poor grammar, misspellings, poor penmanship, inaccurate statements and in general, offering opinions or commentary when it is not appropriate. A favorite saying used by many security directors is a quote from Dragnet detective, Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am!” Far too often personal opinions are interjected into a report when it is totally inappropriate.
Yield Responsibility to Investigators
As mentioned throughout this chapter, most investigations conducted by security officers are of the preliminary variety. Once an investigator has arrived at the scene, the security officer should relinquish control of the investigation. A word of caution: some security directors may prefer to retain some control over an investigation prior to relinquishing authority to a law enforcement detective. If an actual crime has occurred, the security officer may have no choice but to yield to a detective.