The Basics Of Building a Case File

What do you need to do to build your case file? The basics are not that hard to grasp. When you start to build a case file – it either focuses on an event (like a crime) or a subject (person). Many investigators have two sets of files they keep. One is by the event – which for most police departments IS the case file. Then they keep a person file or subject file – many places have different names, but the names are not important - how to keep the file, and what to put in it is important.

Make a document that is you “report.” First – you need a brief summary of the event. It may only be a paragraph, but it documents the known events without all of the details. Here is an example:

Internal Theft: On April 2nd at about 3PM, Fred Johnson appeared to have placed some money from the cash register of the Mini-Mart #6 into his own right front pants pocket. On that same day the cash drawer was short $57. The event was recorded on the video surveillance system for the store.

There are more details to cover – but look at what is covered in the one paragraph:

We covered when, who, what, where, and how. The same stuff you need for any kind of report.

Your report will grow as you gather information, facts and evidence. The simplest way to document this is by time and date. I usually do this, but I re-organize my final report by categories:

  • Summary:
  • Details of Events:
  • Subjects Involved:
  • Vehicles Involved: (if there are any)
  • Evidence: (I will expand on this later)
  • Conclusion: (this is where I put my assessment of what happened and recommendations)
So, as you work on the case – you document what you do, what people tell you (possibly in the form of statements), what evidence you find, and possibly you next steps (this is mostly a reminder for yourself)

For all the subjects in your report, you should conduct a background check. You can do that at Be Your Own Detective or use The Net Detective. Either or these services should get you started.

So get those case files started – and make a folder on your computer labeling the case – put all of your digital information in that folder for safe keeping – more to follow.

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