Free Research Paper On Education/Training Of Investigators And Criminal Investigation
The criminal investigating process is a very important aspect of the criminal justice system and so much is dependent on it. It provides, for example, for the foundation of the prosecution and conviction of criminals. A solid and fruitful criminal investigation, therefore, significantly impacts the potential doom or success of a criminal case. Aside from aiding prosecution, criminal investigation also serves other important goals, such as the uncovering of a crime, the location and identification of suspects, the location, documentation and preservation of evidence, the arrest of suspects, and the return of stolen property. The police detective, thus, plays a very important role in the scheme of things in the criminal justice system so much so that detectives are looked up as prized positions in policing (Huey 2010, p. 52). The expectations placed on the shoulders of police detectives is heightened by the proliferation of movie and television series that feature detectives and police detective life and work. Criminal investigators must thoroughly prepare themselves through intensive and extensive training and education to prepare them for the complex and most important job of investigating crimes.
A criminal investigator performs a myriad of jobs that require in-depth knowledge and skills on a host of subjects. A police investigator is tasked with the job of producing “a definitive account of who did what to whom and why” (cited Huey 2010, p. 51). Although this sounds very simple, the task of a police investigator involves a very complex web of information gathering or ‘knowledge work’ that entails interpretative and classification skills. Police investigation requires that a police investigator brings with him or her a diverse knowledge and expertise in “incident reports, crime scene investigator reports, witness statements, suspect statements, tip lines, crime scene photographs, and drawings, fingerprints, DNA, physical evidence (ballistics, tool marks, blood splatters), informants, and property tracking” (cited Huey 2010, p. 51). Such assorted skills and knowledge, however, form only one aspect of the tools required of the profession. The police investigator must also understand the legal intricacies associated with any evidence he or she has gathered because no matter how significant the evidence collected are they might become worthless if they cannot be presented in court because they are inadmissible. Thus, aside from the forensic technicalities a police investigator must master, he or she must also become a legal expert where the legal rules on admissibility are concerned.
The link between successful criminal investigation and proper training of a criminal investigation can be gleaned by scrutinizing the tasks of a criminal investigator. For example, one of the tasks that a criminal investigator usually performs is interviewing eyewitnesses. Such a task is very important because eyewitness accounts hold a very important position in the hierarchy of evidence in court proceedings. In addition, new information that can provide more leads to solving the crime might just be hiding in the minds of eyewitnesses waiting for the criminal investigator to mine them through appropriate techniques in questioning. The investigator must thus, have proper training in the techniques of interviewing eyewitness to get the most important information out of them. Such techniques must bring out the best from eyewitnesses by enhancing their memory recollection. Brunel et al (2012, p. 846) reported that police have difficulties implementing the elements of cognitive interview or CI – a technique in interviewing eyewitnesses that entails various mnemonic instructions geared at gently goading interviewees to remember events through multiple retrieval strategies.
The importance of eyewitnesses and prospective eyewitnesses, thus, makes training in interviewing a very important aspect of criminal investigation preparation. Aside from techniques that an investigator must learn in posing questions, he or she must also learn to detect if the interviewee is lying or telling the truth. A lying or deceptive eyewitness or interviewee can complicate things for the investigator and lead him or her astray farther from the truth. Time, effort and resources are, thus, wasted. The criminal investigator must thus undergo training that allows him or her to go beyond verbal behavior, such as bodily movements and paralinguistic behavior to determine the truthfulness of an interviewee. The scratching of an itch, changes of postures and bouncing of feet can be signs of deceptive behavior, which the investigator must carefully consider (Blair and Kooi 2003, pp. 76-77).
Criminal investigation is constantly evolving with the introduction of new ideas, aside from interviewing techniques, in the fields of forensic science, offender profiling and behavioral science, among others. For example, suspect prioritization is being employed in some jurisdictions from the early use of clinical classification systems to the more modern pragmatic systems. Other new developments in the field of criminal investigation are crime analysis using new technologies as well as basic psychology principles (Emeno et al 2010, pp. 100-102). A criminal investigator must not only rely on learned strategies from previous trainings, but must update his or her knowledge on new crafts and techniques to further his or her abilities to conduct criminal investigation. However, a police investigator must understand the limitations of techniques, especially the newer and less established ones, and must also learn to rely on common sense and intuition.
The link between criminal investigation and training/education of criminal investigation is more evident now than ever. Previously, investigative techniques relied mostly on common sense of the investigator. Contemporary criminal investigations still relies on the common sense and intuition of the investigator along with newly developed strategies that developed from years of research in psychology and behavioral science, forensics and information technologies. The modern criminal investigator must be a repository of all these information, techniques, strategies and knowledge to make criminal investigation effective and successful.
Blair, J. and Kooi, B. (2003). The Gap between Training and Research in the Detection of Deception. International Journal of Police Science & Management, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 77- 83.
Brunel, M., Py, J. and Launay, C. (2012). Cost and Benefit of a New Instruction for the Cognitive Interview: The Open Depth Instruction. Psychology, Crime & Law, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 845-863.
Emeno, K., Mugford, R. and Taylor, A. (2008). The Forensic Psychologist’s Casebook:
Psychological Profiling and Criminal Investigation. Journal of Police Crim Psych, vol. 23, pp:100–102.
Huey, L. (2010). 'I've seen this on CSI': Criminal investigators' perceptions about the management of public expectations in the field. Crime, Media Culture, vol. 6, no. 49, pp. 49-68.