By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
Detectives Delavan and Bird conducted a presentation on crime scene response with a number of forensic tools for the class to view.


Anyone watch CSI in any of its forms? “They’re so unrealistic,” said Detective David Bird as he began a presentation on crime scene response. “I can’t watch them.” (GASP!) An entertainment, action, forensic, cop show that solves every case inside the course of an hour is ‘unrealistic’?

I guess that’s why doctors don’t watch sitcoms and dramas based in hospitals, cops don’t watch cop shows, and superheroes don’t watch superhero shows. The programs skip over the ‘boring’ details that, in reality, can make or break a case. They ignore the fact that luminal can actually destroy evidence. They never show all the hours of exacting attention to detail it can take to process a crime scene correctly. The programs only show the evidence actually being found and race to the exciting parts that keep viewers coming back for more.

Detective Bird has been with the Belvidere Police Department for 16 years. “I have been a detective for four and a half years. I was on the K-9 Unit for six and a half years. I have worked the Gang Unit, been a field trainer, and worked undercover. As a detective I work everything from felony theft to homicide, including arson, sex crimes, financial crimes, identity theft, and more.”

Det. Tom Delavan joined Det. Bird in the training room for the eighth session of the Belvidere Citizen’s Police Academy. Det. Delavan has been with the Belvidere Police Dept. for 11 years, four of them as a general case detective. “It’s amazing how much technical stuff you have to know,” he said. “We are involved with crime scenes at least once a week.”

“We might have a major crime with minimum evidence,” Det. Bird said. “Or we might have a minor crime with tons of evidence. The ‘CSI effect’ is the unrealistic expectations of the jurors from watching the TV shows. They think irrefutable evidence will be available in every case. They don’t realize that in real life it can take up to nine months to get fingerprint results from AFIS.

“You can’t even test to become a detective until you have been on patrol for three years. When you do become a detective, you go through a lot of training. You can take courses that interest you. There are classes on interview techniques, computer crimes forensics, forensic pathology, and so much more. In some classes, the actual detectives or prosecutors who presented a case will come in and show/tell us how they figured out a crime. You then take your hours of training and put it into practice.

“Detectives work on murders, shootings, aggravated assaults, burglaries, arson, thefts, sexual assaults…”

“Crime scene documentation,” Det. Delavan said. “Notes, video, photography, sketches, and more…”

“The first thing we do is take photos,” said Det. Bird.

“We place a marker everywhere we will be searching – each room, each closet,” said Det. Delavan. “We take pictures going in. We take exit pictures going out. We take pictures as we find stuff.

“We speak to victims. We speak to offenders. We look for and speak to witnesses.”

“We download cell phones and check for all available evidence.” Said Det. Bird. “People may have noticed things that they didn’t think anything of at the time but which could be important evidence. ‘Did you see anything that day?’ ‘Well, I saw a white van in that driveway that I didn’t recognize.’ Now we have another piece of evidence that we can work with.”

Det. Delavan said, “From a cell phone or an IPhone, we can pull current location, backtrack where they have been with the map feature, see your internet searches and browsing history, your call log, GPS data, we can open your email, and follow your social media.”

“Track drug sales through Messenger,” Det. Bird said.

“See your photos and videos, even check your bank account information,” said Det. Delavan.

“Our cases are becoming more and more involved,” said Det. Bird. “Technology and the internet are a new kind of crime scene. It takes a lot of…

For complete article, pick up the April 4 Belvidere Daily Republican.

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