| Ethics with Homicide Investigations | | 7/12/2010| | If any part of the homicide investigation is rushed or pushed through without being handled in a thorough and professional manor, the case may be thrown out of court or a wrong suspect convicted under false pretenses. Homicide investigators must follow guidelines and be ethical at the same time to properly handle a case and have proof enough to prosecute the suspect. The prosecution must also be fully ethical and professional before taking a case before the court. There are various things that are considered ethical and unethical.
Some rough and general summary of ethical principals are: Confidentiality, protecting confidential communications, such as personal papers, police information, and business records. Respect for victims, their families, and friends. Non-Discriminative; avoid discrimination against suspects or witness’ on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or other factors that are not related to homicide investigation. Honesty; in all communications with data including not fabricating, falsify, or misrepresenting data, do not deceive. Objectivity; avoid or minimize bias or self-deception.
Integrity; keep your promises and agreements; consistency of thought and action. Carefulness; avoid careless errors and negligence; carefully and critically examine work. Keep good records of research activities. Openness; share data, results, ideas, tools, resources. Be open to criticism and new ideas. (David B. Resnik) Confidentiality must be used while collecting additional information from records to ascertain business interests of the victim; trace source of murder weapon through manufacturer’s records or firearms registration records.
Review intradepartmental electronic communications on a daily basis. (Osterburg & Ward) Respect must be used when interviewing people, to check on the background and activities of the victim; obtain leads from those who knew the deceased. (Osterburg & Ward) While interviewing a suspect they must be non-discriminating. Investigators cannot use coercion or use of force, beating or striking the suspect to try and get a confession. Refusing the suspect an attorney if they mention wanting one, and bullying, forcing, bribing, or intimidating the suspect into a confession is not allowed. Osterburg & Ward) Honesty, while recording the crime scene by using sketches, photos and notes. The date and time should be recorded when anything is done in response to new information. (Osterburg & Ward) By being honest, and recording everything you can be prepared for court, when the defense attorney asks “when” this or that happened. Objectivity is important when looking for motive of the crime. From the way the crime was committed—using evidence at the scene, and trauma inflicted on the victim for psychological profiling.
From those who had knowledge of the victim’s activities (social, familiar, and business). (Osterburg & Ward) Integrity, to identify the victim and to establish the cause, manner and time of death. (Osterburg & Ward) This is all done with the help of others with in the field, such as the M. E. Integrity to not let emotions and feelings of anger and betrayal affect their work. An investigator needs to use carefulness when they recognize, collect, and preserve all physical evidence.
So they are able to facilitate reconstruction of the crime, and link a suspect to the victim, crime scene, or both. Being careful they can identify a substance (poison, narcotic, blood, semen), or an object (bludgeon, gun) in order to locate its source and trace its owner. (Osterburg & Ward) Openness needs to be used from the first call. The investigator needs to be thinking “outside the box” (Osterburg & Ward). Not all homicides are committed for the same reason.
By keeping open they can follow the leads to a suspect. By being ethical and professional during the whole investigation the criminal can be tried and brought to justice. All of this is brought together by the investigator, prosecutor and other supporting teams. In the end, justice is served and everyone has done their job. Bibliography David B. Resnik, J. P. What is Ethics in Research & Why is It Important? Osterburg, J. , & Ward, R. Criminal Investication: Method for Reconstucting the Past, 5th Edition. Lexis/Nexus.