The handling of a crime scene for first responders is a huge challenge.
“Your victim dies once, but your crime scene dies a hundred times,” said Columbus Sgt. Dave Harrington.
Those words define how difficult it is for investigators to maintain the integrity of a crime scene.
“The scene is really only pristine when whoever committed the crime leaves it and before the first person discovers it,” Harrington said.
From there, law enforcement said people are either bringing something inside the police tape, or taking something away, or both.
Fire department medics enter the scene only after it is secured by police.
“The patient care is the top of the list of getting things taken care of,” said Columbus Fire Captain Scott Krummel. “The police understand that things are going to be disturbed.”
Krummel said he can remember recently entering a safe scene that quickly got dangerous.
“We’re working on a patient there on the floor, and there’s a couple of weapons right there on the kitchen table, and a whole argument of people in the front room,” Krummel said.
He said they got the patient out and then continued to work.
While medics focus on treating victims, police want to solve crimes and get convictions. Court cases can turn on the tiniest bit of evidence.
“A fingerprint or a hair or even like a really small shell casing that managed to fall down into a ventilation grate,” Harrington said.
After the recent Clintonville shooting that included a police chase and a double fatality, detectives said a large area was shut down for days.
Collecting witness and victim statements are part of the process, but police said securing a solid crime scene is the best starting point for finding the truth.
“The evidence on the ground isn’t lying to you,” Harrington said. “Everyone else might, but that evidence won’t lie to you.”
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