KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lot goes into putting together what happened at the scene of a crime.
Investigators from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Crime Scene Unit demonstrated the long and meticulous process.
There are 16 people on KCPD's Crime Scene Unit who do not work as sworn police officers. When they show up to a crime scene, they have a lot of work to do, and they're passionate about doing it right.
Supervisor Jeremy Chappell said the work is often time-consuming.
"It’s time-consuming because the nature of the work, but it’s time-consuming too because we want to do it right, and we only get one chance to do it right," Chappell said.
When crime scene investigators arrive at a scene, they begin by getting briefed by officers who were there first. After that, they use cameras to document the entire scene, being sure to photograph it exactly as it was when they arrived.
After a scene is documented, investigators process and collect evidence.
They have tools for everything, whether it be testing blood samples, taking fingerprints, picking up small hairs or fibers on surfaces, and finding out the trajectory of a bullet.
Thanks to grant money, investigators started using 3D scanners in 2019 to help process a scene.
"They get literally millions of measurements that are a lot more accurate than what we were getting before. Literally within millimeters, these measurements are accurate," Chappell said.
Previously, Chappell said investigators had to sketch scenes and take measurements by hand. The technology provides a much more enhanced view of the scene for detectives, prosecutors and a jury if needed.
Investigators like Lori Keller say every day on the job is new and different.
"It’s an interesting job, it’s extremely rewarding," Keller said.
Keller said she and her fellow investigators work tirelessly to get justice for the people of Kansas City, no matter the crime.
"We have people who have lost loved ones or it could be that their home got burglarized, and these are all very important and traumatic situations that happen to people," Keller said.
After a scene is processed, evidence goes back to the lab where it is preserved.
The detailed work done at the scene is crucial for the future when that important evidence could be needed at any time.
"We have to prepare for things to be preserved for 20, 30 years if not longer," Chappell said. "For a homicide, there’s no statute of limitations, so hypothetically this stuff could get pulled within 50 years, and it would still need to be good."