First responder — the officer who responds first to the scene — has the responsibility to protect the public and the crime scene and control the changes made to the crime scene to the best of their ability. The first responsibility of a first responder after making sure that they themselves do not introduce change to the scene is public safety. This means the safety of the officer as well as the citizens. To protect themselves and the citizens, it is important for the first responder to park away from the scene. This is so that if there is still a suspect at the scene, the presence of an officer will not be obvious and will not make matters worse. Also for public safety reasons, it is important for the first responder to search the scene for a suspect. Doing this search might involve the police officer leaving some traces of their presence. However, this should still be minimal, and the first responder should try to limit what they touch and where they go. Once the scene is deemed safe, the officer must secure the scene. The steps are as follows:
A. Rope off a VERY LARGE area around the scene.
B. Keep EVERYONE out and away from the scene.
C. Ensure that only authorized persons are allowed
inside the crime scene.
There are two factors that could potentially change the crime scene: people and the weather. People can be controlled by keeping everyone who is not law enforcement away from the scene. When people do enter the scene, it is important to keep a log. The log should include the following:
A. The name of each person entering the scene
B. The date and time each person entered the scene
C. The reason for each person entering the scene
D. The date and time each person exits the scene
This log is necessary so that any additional evidence that could be left inside is recorded. If this additional evidence is examined in court, there are records to show that this person entered the crime scene for a particular reason and that they were rightfully there because the first responder gave them the okay.
The final job of a first responder is to interview and question potential witnesses and potential suspects. It is important to keep in mind that a first responder should not interview or question at length. Questioning at length should be left for follow-up officers, because your main duty as a first responder is to secure the scene and to protect the scene and the people.