Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 14, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “The “Fingerprints” Of A Child Sexual Assault Investigation”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Forensic Expert – Senior Author

In 1992 Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld created The Innocence Project which is a non-profit
CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI?cafe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 legal organization that is committed to exonerating wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, and to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. To Date, the Innocent Project has freed 301 wrongfully convicted people, including 18 who spent time on death row. (Wikipedia, 2012)
Like DNA, fingerprints play a very important role in finding if an individual committed a crime. The system needs to examine, evaluate, and analyze just how important fingerprints are to ascertaining the truth. When performing an investigation DNA and fingerprints parallel and corroborate law enforcements findings.
Like the characteristics of a fingerprint there are many aspects of a child sexual assault investigation (CSAI) which parallels it. In fact, there are at least twelve characteristics which will be discussed today which may provide you some insight into the world of science. Let us call them “Daly’s Twelve Investigative Characteristics to Finding the Truth.”
Daly’s Twelve Investigative Characteristics are as follows:
1.      Development – There are four stages of development which parallel a fingerprint. Once identified the officer or crime scene technician (CST) will need to develop the fingerprint by using dusting powder, other methods, techniques, chemicals, and etc.
2.      Registration – Once the fingerprint is identified either it is a partial or an entire hand print, the fingerprint is registered into the Automated Fingerprint Index System (AFIS). In sexual assault cases if the perpetrator is found guilty, he will be required by law to register as a sexual offender.
3.      Crime Scene – Fingerprints are found at a crime scene and are identified by an officer or CST. The investigation of what happened at the crime scene and locating a fingerprint at the crime scene go hand in hand.
4.      Processing – In any CSAI the crime scene is processed, the investigation goes through a development process, and etc.
5.      Identification – Who the individual was who left the fingerprint can be identified if his fingerprints are found in the National AFIS. Once the individual is identified as being the perpetrator who committed the sexual assault his fingerprints will be processed and put into AFIS.
6.      Ridge Units – There are several types of ridges in a fingerprint. In a CSAI there will be many ridge units in the investigation in which the District Detective will have to deal with throughout the investigation.
7.      Classifying – The fingerprint is classified as having certain characteristics. This is what makes the fingerprint useful in a court of law because no one has the same fingerprints. In the CSAI the type of sex crime which is classified as being a molestation, sexual assault, or a rape will become important as the law enforcement officer will need to prove this aspect of the case to prove that a crime was committed.
8.      Medical – The fingerprint can be medically removed from a dead body to identify who he is. In CSAI there is a medical examination the child victim will need to submit to and be processed through.
9.      Difference – Since there are no two fingerprint alike there are also no two sexual assault investigations which will be the same.
10.  Impressions – Sometimes a fingerprint which was left at the crime scene will have specific impressions if the surface of where the fingerprints were left. In CSAI the credibility, reliability and backgrounds of the child victim, witnesses, and perpetrator will be important in what impression the District Detective will be able to uncover about each one of them.
11.  Hidden – There are fingerprints which are defined as Latent Fingerprints which means the fingerprint is sometimes not capable of being seen by the human eye. In CSAI the crimes are hidden behind a closed door.
12.  Detection – A trained CST can locate and detect if a fingerprint is present. When the child begins to act differently or tells her mother or father what the perpetrator did to her, the crime is detected, and the development of the CSAI begins.

Today the need to first explain and understand what characteristics of the CSAI will be the first characteristic which is “Development” which is where the complaint is made that a child was sexual assaulted and law enforcement is called and responds to where the complaint is being made and begins the CSAI.
In the development stage of the initial complaint of a child sexual assault, there are many tasks the first responding officer and other officers will be responsible to perform. There are several stages which can be identified during the development phase:
Initial Stages of Development
1.      First Responder investigates the initial allegations
2.      First Responder requests assistance to establish a perimeter inside and outside the residence/building/vehicle. Makes perimeter large enough to protect potential evidence, including vehicles
3.      First Responder determines two extremely important issues 1. The safety and protection of the child 2. If there is probable cause to arrest the alleged perpetrator
4.      First Responder contacts his immediate supervisor and details the case information to him.
5.      First Responder receives authority to call the Sergeant from the Special Assault Unit (SAU) to relay the incident/event information and to request he send at least two detectives to the scene
6.      Once the two detectives arrive at the crime scene, the First Responder who had been in charge of the crime scene, witnesses, child victim and perpetrator relinquishes his responsibilities to the District Detective

Second Stages of Development
1.      Two detectives respond to crime scene. Upon arrival the First Responder relinquishes the crime scene to the District Detective. The Assisting Detective will provide assistance in all areas of the initial follow-up investigation
2.      District Detective contacts radio and requests a crime scene technician(s) to respond to process the crime scene
3.      The District Detective should create a detailed initial investigative plan, sometimes referred to as a Case Action Plan (CAP), discussing the CAP with the Assisting Detective.
a.       This process should be created ‘mentally’ as the District Detective is responding to the crime scene
4.      Once constructed the District Detective will make assignments to the Assisting Detective, Crime Scene Technicians (CST), and the First Responder and other officers who can remain on the scene and assist

Third Stages of Development
1.      District Detective will contact the complainant and perform the child interview
2.      Assisting Detective will assign officer's on the scene to assist in gathering all of the witnesses for identification and interviews
3.      CST will need to establish if the crime scene perimeter established by First Responder and assisting Officer's is sufficient for the protection of the identification and collection of evidence
4.      CST’s will divide who will do what investigative aspects of processing the crime scene
5.      One of the first responding units stays with the perpetrator if he is at the crime scene. He is either released or taken to jail for processing

Fourth Stages of Development
1.      District Detective collects all witness statements and receives information from the lead CST what the findings of processing the crime scene were
2.      District Detective collects all officer's statement in reference to their investigative responsibility at the crime scene
3.      District Detective makes contact at the jail with the perpetrator or has the perpetrator come in to be interrogated by him
4.      District Detective has any and all evidence taken to the State Crime Laboratory for analyzation
5.      District Detective will perform any investigative step necessary to prove if the crime did or didn't occur
6.      District Detective provides Deputy Prosecutor with either an update on the investigation or provides him with the investigative file for the consideration of filing criminal charges

There are eleven more characteristics of a CSAI to examine and understand how they are parallel or similar to the many characteristic of the fingerprint and the information about the two of them. As I explore these parallels and similarities take the time to contemplate and critically think about the methodology which is being utilized to perform investigative functions which may prove that a crime was or wasn’t committed.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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