*Fire Investigation (e.g. Arson) & Collection and Preservation of Arson Evidence - Research Paper Example

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Fire Investigation: Collection and Preservation of Arson Evidence Franziska Philipp Palm Beach State College Fire Investigation: Collection and Preservation of Arson Evidence Introduction Fire investigation aims to establish the cause and origin of fire related occurrences (Lee and Harris, 2000)…
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*Fire Investigation (e.g. Arson) & Collection and Preservation of Arson Evidence
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Download file to see previous pages There are many types of investigations that are susceptible to prejudgment. However, fires are destructive in nature, consuming evidence as it continues to burn as noted by Diane (1993). The evidence is further tainted by activities from the fire service agencies whose goal is protection of property. In addition to this, press and curious individuals that are attracted to the fire scenes further complicate the investigations. Fire investigations resemble picture puzzles. Each person has only one piece but no one has a whole picture. As such, it is up to the investigator to collect enough evidence to solve the puzzle (Lee and Harris, 2000). As soon as the crime scene has been comprehensively investigated and documented, immediately the collection process normally begins. In most cases, the collection process normally starts with collecting the most fragile and easily lost evidence (Diane, 1993). Special handling is required when dealing with movable objects like photographs enabling the collection to proceed in a logical manner. Most of the evidence items are collected in simple items like papers packets, bags and envelopes (Lee and Harris, 2000). The liquid evidence may be transported in leak-proof containers that are non-breakable. In addition, dry powder in large quantities is usually collected and stored in tight airbags. Wet and moist evidence like blood and plants are collected and transported in plastic containers. This is done as a way of preventing contamination of other arson evidence. As soon as the wet evidence is in a secure location, whether it was packed in paper or plastic bags, it must be removed and given time to dry. As soon as it dries, it should be repackaged in a dry and new paper container. There is a warning that concerns the handling of wet evidence stating that the arson evidence must not be packed in paper and plastic containers longer than two hours (Soule, 2008). This is due to the fact that moisture accelerates growth of microorganisms that can destroy the evidence hence changing it. During collection of evidence, any items that may cross contaminated must be packed separately (Lee and Harris, 2000). In addition, all the containers must be closed and secured as a preventive measure of mixing up the evidence during transportation. Each of the collecting bags must contain certain information as noted by Bonny (2003). For example, the initials of the person collecting should be present, time and date of collection, location and full description of the evidence found and finally the agency name that is head of investigations including their file number. Considering forensic discipline, each form of evidence does have its specific value during investigations. In the mind of an investigator, the type of evidence to gather matters (Schaaf, 1977). For example, during investigations, an investigator should be more focused on collecting fingerprints on the fire debris as opposed to collecting fibers on clothing. Fingerprint evidence can act as an accurate pointer that a person was involved in a particular crime. However, in absence of fingerprints, fibers found in a person’s clothing act as first hand evidence (Soule, 2008). Subsequently, it is also a very wise initiative to collect more evidence from all areas as opposed to enough evidence. After all, an investigator has access to crime scene once before all the evidence is destroyed. However, not all evidence can be collected at the scene since it was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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