Criminal Investigations

In order to conduct an investigation of a crime, the investigator or detective relies on intelligence. In assisting the investigator, the intelligence analyst concentrates on the collection and dissemination of information about criminals (Bruce, 2008). That is, the analyst may create physical, behavioral, or psychological profiles of offenders based on the crimes they have committed. Or the analyst might use investigative skills to compare possible suspects, research the modus ope- randi of a number of suspects, or create a profile of a serial offender.

It is important for intelligence analysts and tactical crime analysts to have an understanding of how a criminal investigation proceeds in order to be in the best position to provide the kind of intelligence investigators need to close cases.

To better understand the investigative process, it is useful to consider the essential qualities of a criminal investigator. According to Swanson et al. (2012), successful investigators have the following qualities:

  • 1. Strong degree of self-discipline
  • 2. Ethical and moral standards leading to using legally approved methods
  • 3. Capable of winning the confidence of others
  • 4. Not acting out of malice or bias
  • 5. Always willing to include in their case documentation all evidence that may point to the innocence of a suspect—no matter how unsavory the character of that suspect
  • 6. Knowledge that investigation is a systematic method of inquiry that is more science than art
  • 7. Realization that investigations often require initiative and personal resourcefulness
  • 8. Wide range of contacts across many occupations
  • 9. Openness to consulting with experts from various fields to help move the investigation forward
  • 10. Ability to use both inductive and deductive reasoning
  • 11. Willingness to monitor their own use of inductive and deductive reasoning to try to avoid distortions and fallacies
  • 12. Ability to learn something from every person they meet
  • 13. Empathy, sensitivity, and compassion to do their job without causing undue anguish to others
  • 14. Positive outlook that guards them against becoming callous and cynical

Knowing these essential qualities possessed by good investigators allows you to strive to have them.

Now, we can go on to talk about how criminal investigations are carried out.

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