When a murder is reported, law enforcement officers be called to the murder scene. Amongst them: homicide detectives. They, of course, investigate and solve criminal cases involving murder. And that would be impossible if they did not visit the crime scene and collect the evidence there. Some homicide units are so effective at their job that they have an impressive 80 percent solve rate. Though homicide detectives all work to solve murders, they can operate at different levels. Most homicide detectives work for police at the local level, but some work for state or federal government
Time is of the essence when trying to solve a murder. The sooner detectives act on information and evidence, the better their chances of solving a murder. So when a murder is reported, the police department will quickly send a team out to the scene of the crime. That team will consist of both homicide detectives and the CSI unit. One does not work in isolation from the other. In some cases, the work of the CSI unit makes all the difference when homicide detectives attempt to solve a crime. Both groups will work together to examine and collect the evidence at the crime scene.
When CSI’s arrive at the scene they will begin to process the evidence. Homicide detectives, on the other hand, will take charge of the crime scene. They then begin performing several tasks. These tasks are the core duties they must fulfill while investigating a murder scene. In fact, performing these tasks greatly increases the chances of catching and convicting the perpetrator. These tasks include assessing the crime scene, documenting the scene, processing the scene, canvassing the area, and handling suspects.
What Do Homicide Detective Do?
When homicide detectives arrive at a murder scene, they will begin their investigation in the area the body was originally found. This area is called the primary crime scene. Homicide detectives will then determine what constitutes physical evidence and will use this information to define the dimensions of the crime scene: The area that is cordoned off to protect the evidence. While assessing the crime scene, homicide detectives will also take a look at the victim looking for clues that might identify the victim and the cause of death.
Once the crime scene has been assessed, it’s time for the homicide detectives to document the scene. Homicide detective will walk through the crime scene creating a permanent record of the crime scene by photographing or videotaping the crime scene and taking notes. All of this must be done before a single piece of evidence is moved. This will help investigators recreate the crime scene later on when they begin to analyze the evidence. It will also allow the prosecuting attorney to easily recreate an accurate view of the scene when the evidence is presented in court.
It is at this point that homicide detectives begin processing the crime scene looking for evidence that the CSI’s may have missed. Any evidence found is documented and collected. Collecting evidence is an important step in the investigation. One misstep and a perpetrator can get away on a technicality or an innocent man may be sentenced to prison life. This is why homicide detectives carefully collect the evidence ensuring that its integrity remains intact during its collection and while in police custody.
Detectives will also canvass the area to locate and interview witnesses who may have information that can help solve the murder. Detectives working a murder case must conduct background checks on the victim and suspects to identify the party responsible for the murder. When the homicide detectives begin to analyze the evidence, they may have a discussion with law enforcement colleagues who have a specialization in an area they are unfamiliar with. Detectives are also responsible for serving misdemeanor and felony warrants, arresting suspects, and taking witness depositions. When not working a crime scene, investigators will oftentimes perform administrative duties such as reviewing case files to look for clues, analyzing the previous day’s notes, and reviewing court orders and warrants.
How Much Do Homicide Detectives Make?
In 2015, the average homicide detective earned an annual wage of $79,620. But salaries varied between different states. In the next 7 years, the employment growth for homicide detectives is projected to be 4%.