Lesson Two: The Investigator

Responsibilities of the Investigator

It is the responsibility of the investigator to address every step of the investigation in a manner that will lead to the truth. Once the investigator starts a case, he/she is personally responsible for the following:

You need to become thoroughly familiar with the individual and determining what leads are identified and what activities might produce additional leads.

You then need to view all evidence collected in the case and determining what should be submitted to a laboratory for analysis, and exactly what analysis should be performed if necessary.

Next you should determine whether surveillance needs to be conducted, and what type of surveillance to use.

After that you can evaluate the significance of any statements and determining which individuals need to be re-interviewed.

Then you need to determine if you need to collect any additional evidence that may have been overlooked during the preliminary investigation.

Essential Traits of an Effective Investigator

The investigator that consistently solves difficult cases is often said to have luck. While this may be partially true, it is probably only a small portion of what really makes the investigator effective. To be an effective investigator, in addition to being adequately prepared, you must also possess and develop certain essential traits. Some of these traits are as follows:

A. Self-Discipline

Every successful investigator must possess a high degree of self discipline. This self discipline helps guide the investigator’s behavior to ensure that only legally acceptable and ethical methods of investigation are utilized to solve cases. A successful investigator always approaches the case with an alert and fastidious attention to detail and never leaves anything to chance. All steps of the investigation must be carefully calculated and chances never taken that might jeopardize the case.

B. Reasoning Ability

This is based on the investigator’s ability to draw conclusions from evidence discovered in the course of an investigation. The ability to analyze a multitude of facts, and determine how they interrelate, is basic to a successful investigation. Although law enforcement officers practice this trait on a regular basis, this mental challenge is a routine part of being an investigator. Methods of reasoning include two types:

1. Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is practiced on a daily basis by nearly every investigator. An investigator is tasked with uncovering all the facts involved with a case in an effort to solve the case. In the case of deductive reasoning, a person deduces certain information without the benefit of all the facts.

2. Inductive Reasoning

Through the use of inductive reasoning, the investigator is able to avoid the narrowing of his/her perceptions. It is always best to have all the facts before a conclusion is reached concerning what has taken place, and how and by whom.

Criminal Example:

An investigator might arrive at the scene of a death and observe a gunshot wound to the right temple of the deceased and a weapon still in the person’s right hand. The deceased is lying on the floor of their home, there is no evidence of a forced entry, and preliminary information reveals that the deceased had no enemies. The investigator then uses deductive reasoning to conclude that the deceased committed suicide using the weapon in their hand.

However, had inductive reasoning been used, the investigator would not have been so hasty to draw a conclusion before all the facts were known. In this example, the investigator should have waited and obtained all of the facts before drawing a conclusion. He/she may have learned that the neighborhood in which the deceased lived had been a target of a group of armed “knock and rob” criminals. He/she might also have learned that the bullet that killed the victim was a different caliber than the weapon in his hand. Based on these two additional pieces of evidence, the investigator would most likely have formed a different opinion about the circumstances surrounding this death.

Reasoning ability is important because the investigator will be asked to draw conclusions on subjects. You may have heard that you are not to include opinions in reports. However, investigators are, by the nature of their job, required to develop opinions. This is a weighty responsibility.

Investigators are viewed as experts in many regards. Along with this recognition comes the responsibility for developing a case, while acting in a responsible and ethical manner. Most people have the ability to draw good conclusions (deduce an answer) from a set of facts. This conclusion does not necessarily have to agree with the conclusion other investigators have drawn (there can be an honest disagreement among reasonable people.) The problem arises when an investigator is not willing to realize or admit that his/her bias is influencing their course of action.


Y'all Stay Safe!

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