The identification, preservation, and handling of evidence are critical to the successful resolution of all criminal investigations. All officers are trained in processing and preserving crime scenes.
Such training provides the officers with adequate knowledge to allow them to initiate routine processing functions and the ability to preserve the area of an incident for a crime scene specialist.
As a general rule, patrol officers are the first to arrive at a scene of an incident or crime. It is the patrol supervisor who makes an assessment of the scene and determines whether the scene requires the expertise and knowledge of a crime scene specialist. Crime scene specialists are members of the General Assignment Bureau assigned to the Detective Division. These detectives are responsible for the processing of every major crime scene where the potential for recovering evidence exists. Crime Scene Specialists are subject to being on call on a twenty-four hour basis.
The assignment of experienced law enforcement personnel as Crime Scene Specialists requires extensive training. To maintain high standards in this specialty, the Fredericksburg Police Department actively seeks and provides the necessary advanced training for Crime Scene Specialists.
To ensure that critical training is acquired, each Crime Scene Specialist is required to attend nine weeks of extensive specialized training in forensic science provided by the Virginia Forensic Science Academy, a subsidiary of the Virginia Department of Consolidated Laboratories. Detectives who are certified forensic technicians conduct crime scene searches for physical and latent evidence. In addition, technicians record a crime scene by video, still photographs, and prepare sketches and drawings to scale. Forensic technicians coordinate forensic activities with patrol personnel and may assist patrol officers in situations where a higher degree of forensic knowledge is required. The forensic technician also processes, packages, and forwards evidence to the state forensic laboratory for examination, analysis, and expert determinations. Certified forensic technicians will provide assistance to other department personnel when requested.