Appendix A: Homicide and Violent Assault First Responder Checklist

AuthorKen Wallentine
The following checklist is designed for first responders. The
objective is to secure the scene, hold witnesses and sus-
pects, and preserve evidence. The first responder can best
serve the investigation by perfect preservation for detec-
Initial Scene Response
En route to the scene, observe vehicles and persons leav-
ing. Drive with enough caution to arrive in one piece.
Drive up only as close as
absolutely necessary
. Many
crime scenes have been damaged by patrol vehicles driv-
ing through blood, over shell casings, or trace evidence.
First priority is to preserve life, then isolate any non-in-
jured suspects.
Protect the scene, protect the scene, protect the scene.
Don’t overlook the possibility of a dying declaration. Ask:
“who did this to you?” If the suspect’s name is not known,
obtain a description of height, weight, gender, race, hair,
clothing, speech accents. The dying declarations will be
powerful evidence in the eventual trial. If you leave to
pursue the suspect, leave someone with the victim to
listen for dying declarations.
If this is clearly a death scene, only the single initial
officer should enter the scene, unless there is a need for
backup for safety purposes. Be careful not to walk through
blood pools or disturb other evidence.
As soon as the scene is safe, the backup officer should
stand outside the scene. Do not move dead bodies, in-
cluding those that are hanging. If a person is hanging,
and first aid might be successful, cut the rope in a place
that does not disturb any knots.
Wear gloves to prevent cross-contamination.

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