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CRM 2702 Criminal Investigations

Course Description

Explores the fundamental components of interviewing and investigations. Covers investigative practices in apprehending suspects and preparing criminal cases. Includes an in-depth examination of the science and art of criminal investigations, and gathering and analyzing evidence. Stresses overall management of major cases.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to

  • Describe the process of criminal investigations to include an overview of the science of physical evidence and interview and interrogation techniques
  • Describe profiles of various crimes and the benefit and risk of using profiles
  • Explain the art and science of interview methods and kinesics
  • Explain case law and procedural aspects of criminal and private investigations
  • Identify career and research options in investigative fields

Week 1

Lecture: Course Introduction
Lecture: Nature of Investigations


  • Explain the importance of the Bow Street Runners
  • Discuss the contribution of Sir Robert Peel's reform to early policing in the United States
  • Explain the history and function of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency
  • Highlight the first major federal investigative agencies and their responsibilities
  • Explain the impact of Supreme Court's due process revolution and its impact on policing
  • Discuss Bertillon's method of anthropometry
  • Summarize the historical development of fingerprint identification
  • Explain the concept and practice of DNA typing
  • Outline the milestones in the development of firearms identification
  • Explain the nature of investigations

Week 2

Lecture: Sources of Information


  • Describe the role of the investigator and the skills and qualities he or she must possess
  • Discuss the major events in the investigation of a crime
  • Explain the seven major steps in a preliminary investigation
  • Describe activities conducted in a follow-up investigation
  • Define a crime scene
  • Outline the purposes and functions of a crime scene investigation
  • Explain the rules for the crime scene investigator
  • Identify the potential threats to investigators' health and safety
  • Identify the five major considerations that dominate the crime scene search
  • List sources of information

Week 3

Lecture: Physical Evidence


  • Distinguish between class and individual characteristics
  • Outline procedures for locating and handling soil and pollen evidence
  • Describe processes for preserving footwear and tire prints and impressions
  • Summarize techniques for collecting glass and paint evidence
  • Discuss methods of collecting and storing fibers, cloth fragments, and impressions
  • Locate, identify, and use tools to obtain fingerprints
  • Describe the importance of forensic dentistry and odontology
  • Discuss the identification and analysis of bloodstains and spatters
  • Identify the determinations that can be made from firearm evidence
  • Outline techniques for identifying questioned documents

Week 4

Lecture: Interviewing and Interrogation


  • Describe the differences and similarities between interviews and interrogation
  • Outline the steps in preparing for an interview and an interrogation
  • Assess the challenges in relying on eyewitness identification
  • Explain the role of hypnosis in criminal investigation
  • Describe Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
  • Identify interviewing processes and techniques
  • Explain the impact of Miranda v. Arizona and other landmark Supreme Court cases on police interrogation
  • Identify interrogation processes and techniques
  • Discuss the methods and importance of documenting an interview and interrogation
  • Explain the importance of listening in an interview and interrogation
  • Describe polygraphs and their relevancy

Week 5

Lecture: Documenting Investigations


  • Summarize the process and solvability factors used to determine whether a follow-up investigation is warranted
  • Elaborate on the follow-up investigation process
  • Explain the use of neighborhood and vehicle canvasses
  • Discuss how databases are used in the follow-up
  • Describe the use of live and photo lineups
  • Describe the purposes and planning for physical surveillance
  • Explain the handling of relationships with informants
  • Discuss the use of the polygraph and computer voice stress analyzer
  • Summarize the use of facial recognition software
  • Explain the role of intelligence units and types of intelligence
  • Describe the intelligence/analytical cycle
  • Describe crime analysis and its techniques
  • Describe time-event charting, link analysis, and telephone record analysis
  • Discuss criminal and geographic profiling
  • Identify financial difficulty indicators
  • Discuss the use of the Internet in follow-up investigations
  • Define and distinguish between forensic science and criminalistics
  • Explain the importance of an investigator's understanding of crime laboratory capabilities
  • Describe the three measures of effectiveness of crime laboratories
  • Distinguish the Frye test from the Daubert test, regarding the admissibility of scientific evidence
  • Explain the role and importance of DNA analysis in criminal investigation and identify the latest technologies in DNA evidence investigation and databanking
  • Highlight the process of fingerprint identification and comparison
  • Describe AFIS, IAFIS, and NIBIN
  • Discuss some of the problems currently associated with police crime laboratories
  • Define crime scene reconstruction and state the three major types of reconstruction
  • Describe the major kinds of pattern evidence often found in crime scene reconstruction
  • Document investigations

Week 6

Lecture: Crimes Against Persons


  • Describe the four motivational models for classification of homicide
  • Identify the investigator's responsibilities when responding to the scene of a suspected homicide or assault
  • Describe the investigative tools and equipment necessary to process a homicide crime scene
  • Discuss the various stages of the medical/legal examination including the autopsy
  • Recognize the potential evidentiary value of gunshot wounds, incised stab wounds, puncture wounds, lacerations, and defense wounds
  • Discuss the role of the forensic entomologist in determining time of death
  • Identify the characteristics of strangulation wounds
  • Recognize wounds inflicted with a blunt object
  • Discuss information used by investigators to distinguish between homicide and suicide
  • Be familiar with the methods and evidence involved in suicides
  • Discuss the characteristics of various poisons and their associated manifestations
  • Outline the facts that need to be determined in the investigation of fire deaths
  • Discuss the seven major components which indicate a serial murderer is operating in a jurisdiction
  • Discuss the ways in which a cold case murder investigation may be started
  • List and explain the classifications of sex offenses
  • List and explain the four types of sexual murder
  • Discuss interview procedures and investigative questions for sexual assault cases
  • Explain why women do not report rape to the police and the motivation for false rape allegations
  • Outline the types of physical evidence collected in rape and sexual assault cases
  • Discuss the importance of condom trace evidence
  • Identify the use and effects of Rohypnol and GHB
  • Assess investigative and evidence collection techniques for drug-facilitated sexual assaults
  • Recognize common characteristics of sexual asphyxia or autoerotic death
  • Describe a psychological autopsy
  • Discuss how to start a cold case investigation
  • Identify and explain the elements of robbery
  • Describe the three styles of robberies based on the amount of planning involved
  • Define the various types of robberies
  • Discuss three explanations for the increase in carjackings
  • Describe a police response to the robbery scene and tactical situations at the scene
  • Describe action, physical, and situational stereotyping
  • Describe follow-up robbery investigation procedures
  • Discuss the team approach to follow-up investigations
  • Explain how decoys may be used in robbery prevention
  • Define and give examples of robbery preventative measures, anticipatory strategies, and reactive measures

Week 7

Lecture: Crimes Against Property


  • Identify data about types of burglaries, when they are committed, and by whom
  • Describe the characteristics of professional and amateur burglars
  • List the steps in the burglary investigation checklist
  • Specify actions officers should take when responding to burglary-in-progess calls
  • Recognize burglary tools
  • Identify types of evidence to collect in safe burglary cases
  • Describe the characteristics of residential burglaries
  • Explain the laws and methods associated with attacks on ATMs
  • Profile burglaries of cars, recreational vehicles, and trailers
  • Discuss indicators at different types of burglary scenes which may suggest juvenile subjects
  • Describe methods of reducing the risk of residential and commercial burglaries
  • Identify types of motor vehicle theft
  • Describe techniques for disposing of stolen motor vehicles
  • Describe challenges associated with the theft investigation of heavy equipment and farm equipment
  • Identify major investigative resources
  • Discuss methods for assisting in the identification of a recovered vehicle
  • Describe vehicle fire investigation methods
  • Explain vehicle and equipment theft prevention approaches
  • Assess title and registration issues related to marine theft
  • Discuss aircraft and avionics theft and relevant identification and investigative techniques

Week 8

Lecture: Special Investigations Trial


  • Discuss the steps in the preliminary investigation of arson
  • List various types of burn indicators
  • Describe ignition devices that may be used in arson
  • Assess several common motivations of arsonists for setting fires
  • Explain the scientific methods used in arson investigation
  • List several groups of people whom an arson investigator should interview
  • List questions that investigators should ask in interviews and interrogations
  • Describe how legal entry can be made into a fire scene and how evidence may be legally obtained
  • Explain the two types of explosions
  • Outline the procedures for handling and investigating bomb threats
  • Identify and describe several opium-derived drugs
  • List and describe synthetic narcotics
  • Identify and distinguish among stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens
  • Outline techniques used in investigating dangerous drugs and narcotics
  • Assess the motives, methods, and management of drug informants
  • Describe several sources of information for undercover officers conducting drug investigations
  • Identify and describe the four major categories of drug-buy operations
  • Discuss the legal exceptions to a search warrant
  • Describe the process of identifying and conducting raids on clandestine labs
  • Describe drug evidence handling and potential security problems
  • Explain the Enterprise Theory of Investigation
  • Describe aspects of trial

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. February 2012