Author

About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

Solar Eclipse and Opioids

How Does a Heroin Overdose Kill?

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world, and thousands will die every year from a heroin overdose. Used for centuries for anything from a cough to pain relief, the potential for addiction and death was not fully realized until 1900. Heroin was made illegal in 1920, leaving millions of addicts desperate for opiate drugs.

Categorically, heroin is a central nervous system depressant, synthesized from the psychoactive chemicals in the opium poppy. Both opium and heroin can result in life-threatening central nervous system depression.

The Effects of Heroin: Addiction and Withdrawals

Snorted, smoked or injected, heroin reaches the brain through the bloodstream quickly. Once there, it binds to the opioid receptors, resulting in the relief of anxiety and pain. In effect, it gives the user a calm, euphoric sensation of escape from reality that can last for several hours.

Addiction occurs upon repeated use of the drug. The user’s brain has been, in essence, “hijacked” by heroin. It becomes dependent on the drug to feel good. In addition, it needs more and more of the drug to achieve the same results (tolerance).

When the user “comes down”, or stops using the drug, withdrawal symptoms occur. They are typically the opposite of what it feels like be high. Withdrawals are also a big incentive for people to keep using. Commonly, this is known as being “dope sick”.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Body aches and increased pain sensitivity
  • Runny nose, tears
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, and spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia

Symptoms can begin without hours of the last dose and can last several days. While not fatal, symptoms are extremely unpleasant and can result in severe depression and suicidal feelings.

www.justbelieverecovery.com

_____________________________

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and short duration of action. It is a potent agonist of μ-opioid receptors. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, but some fentanyl analogs, which are designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, may be as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation – Online Academy 

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

MLDI online Academy is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private Facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

MLDI online Academy  is a six-week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks, you still have access to all videos, downloadable material, and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


 

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st-century investigators.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Opioid Epidemic – How is it effecting you?

Soaring numbers of overdose deaths are adding to woes already plaguing medical examiner and coroner offices, resulting in a shortage of places to store bodies and long delays in autopsies and toxicology testing.

The Connecticut medical examiner’s office has considered renting a refrigerated truck to store extra bodies because its storage area has neared capacity at times.

 

Image: Vermont Battles With Deadly Heroin Epidemic
St JOHNSBURY, VT – FEBRUARY 06: A syringe used for intravenous drug use lies on a table in a room on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt / Getty Images, file

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office sometimes has to put bodies on Army-style cots in its refrigerated storage area because it runs out of gurneys. The Hamilton County coroner’s office in Cincinnati has a 100-day backlog of DNA testing for police drug investigations, largely because of increased overdose deaths.

Medical examiners and coroners say overdose deaths are adding to a strain on their offices that already includes a surge of urban violence, inadequate facilities, budget problems and the shortage of forensic pathologists qualified to perform autopsies.

Article Exerpt credit to:

http://www.nbcnews.com/

Heroin has become so pervasive in cities such as Cincinnati and so profitable for the cartels that supply it that even cops admit the sporadic arrests they make have little effect. “It’s really not going to make any impact out on the street,” says Detective Brandon Connley, speaking from the damp parking lot outside the market. “Everybody and their mom sells drugs these days. There’s always somebody right there to pick back up.”

Millions of Americans got hooked on pain pills during a prescription binge that started in the 1990s and peaked around 2011. As states have tightened monitoring and doctors have reduced dosages, it’s become harder for addicts to get prescription painkillers, driving many to get their fix off street drugs. Mexican cartels and big-city gangs have capitalized on the shift, extending networks of dealers across the U.S. and flooding the market with cheap heroin, according to law enforcement.

Cartels have begun lacing heroin with synthetic opioids including fentanyl, making a dose more addictive and cheaper to produce. Overdose reversal shots are helping addicts survive, often to use again, giving dealers a steady supply of repeat customers. With persistent demand and increasingly wide profit margins, 2017 is shaping up as the most profitable year ever for the U.S. heroin trade.

https://www.bloomberg.com

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation – Online Academy 

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

MLDI online Academy is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private Facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

MLDI online Academy  is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks, you still have access to all videos, downloadable material, and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


 

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st-century investigators.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Fire Scene Incident Command

As death investigators, a time will come when you must work a death related to a structure fire.  You have a job to do and evidence needs to be secured and protected. However, in these circumstances command and access issues can arise and “egos” can disrupt the calm flow of an investigation.

One way, and maybe the most important way, to look at these scenes is, as long as smoke is showing, the fire department is in control. Even after the flames are no longer dancing through the structure, the building remains unsafe.  In instances such as this fire commanders are your best option for safety decisions.

We all understand that Police take ‘control’ of the surrounding area keeping people at a safe distance as well as protecting the wider venue of the scene. After all, until it is determined if a crime was committed they (police) are still responsible for the scene.  But what about the Coroner/Medical Examiner investigator?  Aren’t they responsible for the most important piece of evidence at the scene, the body?  Where do they fit into this command structure?  Further, how does what Fire and Police do affect what the MDI needs.

Fire Scene Incident Command

Every fire scene has an incident command area, some are more structured than others and much of that depends on the scene as well as local policy and fire command training. But to some degree someone is usually in charge somewhere on the fire ground.

According to Chief Pete Lamb of The Firefighter Training Podcast, the best option is that every incident command area be manned by a representative of every agency on scene. Police, Fire, C/ME, EMS, etc.   When this occurs, decision can be made and communications can be had, that will be in the best interest of all parties, or at least be known immediately by all agency commanders.

It is also highly suggested that Coroner and MDI’s take the NIMS (National Incident Management System)  training. This will ensure that everyone on the scene is familiar with what incident command  should look like and how to structure a command operation.

In the Episode

In this episode I talk with Chief Pete Lamb about incident command operations and how fire fighters and MDI’s can work through possible command obstacles prior to a fire scene.  We also talk about scene preservation and evidence control techniques in an active fire.

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation – Online Academy 

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

MLDI online Academy  is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

MLDI online Academy  is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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Part 2 -Dealing with the “jerk” at work –

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is :

 

Workplace Bullying

  • Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s).
  • Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
  • Is a set of acts of commission (doing things to others) or omission (withholding resources from others)
  • Requires consequences for the targeted individual
  • Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
  • Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
  • Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.

Please know two things:

Bullying is a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved. Bullying is a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and, because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results. You may not be the first person to have noticed that you were bullied. Check to see how many of these indicators match yours.

Remember, you did not cause bullying to happen. We’ve broken down the major reasons why bullies bully. The primary reason bullying occurs so frequently in workplaces is that bullying is not yet illegal. Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job.

Should you confront the bully? If you could have, you would have. Instead, use the WBI-suggested 3-Step Method. Remember, put your health first. Don’t believe the lies told about you. Spend time with loved ones and friends. At times of debilitating stress like this, you must not be isolated. Isolation will only make the stress worse.

As we said, to date, no U.S. state has passed an anti-bullying law for the workplace.

* This article is a re-print if excerpts from  Workplace Bullying Institute   To read full article and see many more resources click over to there site.Anita Brook-corner talk-secondary stress

Todays guest is Anita Brooks  of anitabrooks.com 

 

Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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Dealing with the “jerk” at work – Part 1

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is :

 

Workplace Bullying

  • Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s).
  • Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
  • Is a set of acts of commission (doing things to others) or omission (withholding resources from others)
  • Requires consequences for the targeted individual
  • Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
  • Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
  • Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.

Please know two things:

Bullying is a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved. Bullying is a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and, because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results. You may not be the first person to have noticed that you were bullied. Check to see how many of these indicators match yours.

Remember, you did not cause bullying to happen. We’ve broken down the major reasons why bullies bully. The primary reason bullying occurs so frequently in workplaces is that bullying is not yet illegal. Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job.

Should you confront the bully? If you could have, you would have. Instead, use the WBI-suggested 3-Step Method. Remember, put your health first. Don’t believe the lies told about you. Spend time with loved ones and friends. At times of debilitating stress like this, you must not be isolated. Isolation will only make the stress worse.

As we said, to date, no U.S. state has passed an anti-bullying law for the workplace.

* This article is a re-print if excerpts from  Workplace Bullying Institute   To read full article and see many more resources click over to there site.Anita Brook-corner talk-secondary stress

Todays guest is Anita Brooks  of anitabrooks.com 

 

Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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Science Used in Death Investigations

In the job of investigating death, the investigator may use the resources of several different sciences to help determine many aspects of the death and subsequent  investigation.

It is sometimes necessary to bring in expertise from outside an agency. The field of forensic science is so broad today no agency will have every form of specialty service available from among its ranks.

Many Jobs – One Goal 

When it comes to death investigation, EVERYONE involved as one goal regardless of job, title, education, position, or ego.

That one goal is to accurately as possible, with facts and evidence known, to determine the cause and manner of death of a decedent  within a jurisdiction; and to cause an investigation to be completed as to weather a crime was committed or negligence was involved. 

The science used in death and criminal/civil investigation are the same sciences used in nearly ever other academic setting. However, when used in our field it must have a Forensic designation.

Forensic:  is relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime.

The science may exist in academics and industry,  but when applied to criminal investigation it is considered forensic. Special training and certification is required for those seeking to use their expertise in criminal (forensic)  matters.

Here are just a few examples of the Science Used in Death Investigations

Forensic  Science Specialists

  • Medical Examiner/Coroner
  • Forensic Pathologist
  • Odontologist
  • Anthropologist
  • Entomologist
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Blood Pattern Analyst
  • Geologist

Crime Lab Specialties 

  • Latent Prints
  • Firearms, Tool Marks, and Impressions
  • Writing Samples and Questioned Documents
  • Fire debris and arson analysis
  • DNA Analysis
  • Toxicology

 

 

Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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True Murder

This first hand true account of one of the most horrific  murders in Canadian history gives us an insight rarely gained into the mind of a murderer  and the forensics and documentation that goes into the prosecution of a murder of this caliber.  Dan Zupanksy was a prime witness in this case because of his relationship and correspondence  with the killer.  In this conversation we talk about the details of the murder and how it was prosecuted.   Below you will see actual drawings the suspect sent to Zupansaky during their correspondence .  This book is one of the few books that actual helps investigators understand the dynamics of a criminal investigation.  Actual court documents and testimony along with real correspondence

Dan Zupansky is a podcast producer and author living in Canada.  His podcast True Murder is  widely popular and an  iTunes classic.  Rated best show in genre.  You can find links to his show and Trophy Kill TV  below…..

Listen to the audio version or podcast for the full story.

Links and Contact for Dan Zupansky

http://trophykill.tv

 

True Murder Podcast

 

Actual Drawings By the Suspect Used in Prosecution

Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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Your day in court

 

Article Credit: Caliber Press 2007 – Are You Ready to Testify

Policeone.com

“When you’re testifying in court, the jury, the judge, the prosecutor, the defense, the public–all eyes are on you! Your reputation and that of your department may be enhanced or destroyed by your courtroom presentation,” says VanBrocklin.

“There’s another equally important reason for you to care about being an effective witness in the courtroom. If you aren’t, all the work that you and your fellow investigators  did on the case, all that the victims and their families endured, all that other witnesses may have done over the many months and sometimes years it takes for a criminal case to go to trial–will have accomplished nothing more than a containment arrest. A single  ineffective presentation in the courtroom can result in the acquittal of a defendant, no matter the amount of solid evidence you may have collected.”

1. Dress for success

Dress for your court appearance with the same attention to detail you would in going before a promotion board. You should be exceptionally neat—fingernails clean, hair trimmed, clothes pressed, shoes shined. Carry only the essentials—avoid items that jingle, jangle, flash, shine or otherwise distract. Your department policy may dictate whether you wear a uniform or civilian clothes when you testify. Often, on-duty officers will wear a uniform and off-duty officers will wear civilian attire. In state and local courts, you may be armed whether you are in uniform or not. (In federal courts you generally won’t be permitted to wear your firearm into court.) Be aware that some jurors are distracted by the sight of a witness in civilian clothes armed with a gun and carrying bullets, handcuffs, etc. even if they are testifying as a police officer. Discuss this possibility with the prosecutor before your appearance to decide what you should and should not carry.

2. Making your entrance

Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that when you enter the courtroom everyone–jurors, judges, spectators, attorneys, the defendant, the court staff–ALL will be watching your entrance. Stay poised and remind yourself that this is how every witness is viewed. Don’t avoid looking at the judge or jurors; look back at them as you would a person speaking with you.

3. Taking the oath

Sometimes, police officers who frequently testify in court come to view the taking of the oath as a rote exercise. This is clearly communicated in their attitude and demeanor. They may only partially raise their right hand and hold the fingers in a relaxed, cupped posture. They may fail to look at the person administering the oath or even engage in other action, such as clipping on a microphone, while the oath is being administered. They may start to seat themselves while saying, “I do.”

Stop and consider what this communicates—even unintentionally—about the witness’ respect for the truth. Much of a juror’s impression about a witness’ credibility is based upon the witness’ demeanor rather than what the witness actually says on the stand. The last thing a law enforcement officer wants to communicate is a cavalier attitude towards the truth.

The taking of the oath is an excellent opportunity for you to make a strong, credible first impression within which all subsequent testimony will be viewed.

While taking the oath, look at and seriously listen to the person administering it. Keep your right hand at shoulder level with your wrist and fingers extended until the oath is completed. Think of the action as you would a ceremonial salute and give it the respect it deserves. Make eye contact with the jury as you say, “I do,” or immediately after. Remember, the oath is your word of honor, your personal promise to the jury that they can trust you.

4. Prepare yourself for the first question

It’s normal to be nervous and anxious on the stand. You might sweat, shake, have trouble focusing, forget everyone’s name (including your own!), speak too rapidly, speak in a monotone voice, your voice may involuntarily raise or lower…all of these symptoms are normal. Remind yourself of that.

Some pointers to help you compose yourself: Sit up straight, but not stiffly. A normal reaction to the stress of being on the stand is slouching in your chair. Don’t let yourself start slouching as it may progress as your testimony continues.

Orient yourself in the courtroom. Look at each of the walls within your vision without turning around. Look at each person or groups of persons in the courtroom.

Finally, don’t forget to breathe! Remember: “Poise is the ability to be ill-at-ease inconspicuously.”

[Special note: If you are working a night shift or have otherwise been up all night before testifying, tell the prosecutor and suggest that he/she establish this in the beginning of your direct examination. Sleeplessness (or illness) cannot help but affect your demeanor. The jury should have this information so they can evaluate it for what it is and avoid drawing negative inferences.]

5. As you testify…

A. Listen carefully; think before you speak

Look and be attentive. This communicates that you care about being accurate and responsive. Take the time you need to fully understand the question and give the proper response. It doesn’t hurt to appear thoughtful. Organize your thoughts; don’t be hasty.

B. Answer the question being asked

It’s tempting to add information to your answer that you think helps advance the prosecution’s case. Resist this temptation. First, this is the prosecutor’s job; let the prosecutor develop your testimony. Don’t jump ahead, don’t anticipate, just answer the question that is asked.

Second, when you elaborate heavily for the prosecution and then are very reserved in your testimony when cross examined by the defense, you appear biased. This undermines your credibility as an objective reporter of the facts.

Third, adding extraneous information to your answer opens up other areas for cross examination. Remember: “Nothing in this world is opened by mistake more often than the mouth.”

C. Speak a little louder and slower than you think is necessary

Don’t inject long pauses between words, phrases or sentences but do concentrate on making each word clearly heard and understood.

D. Be sincere and dignified

Trials are serious matters for everyone involved. Refrain from wise cracks and clever remarks. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to laugh at yourself or an unexpected occurrence, if appropriate. Avoid appearing frozen, calculated or completely devoid of emotion.

E. Remain calm and respectful

|This is critical. It’s this simple–if you, as a law enforcement officer, lose your cool on the stand, no matter what kind of case, you lose all credibility with the jury. The jury, as citizens, have authorized you to carry guns and granted you a power and use of force they do not permit themselves. If you cannot control yourself in a courtroom, they are justified in being gravely concerned about your ability to control yourself on the streets, where you are subjected to much greater stress and no one is watching.

Your patience and temper will be sorely tried with interruptions, delays, argumentative questions and attacks on your character. Do not allow yourself to become arrogant, flip, antagonistic, impatient or excited. The worse it gets the greater an opportunity you are being handed to impress the jury with your strength of character, your integrity, your dignity.

Like it or not, as a law enforcement officer, jurors hold you to a higher standard than they do lay witnesses and they expect you to be able to take more abuse on the stand and still remain professional. Be aware that experienced prosecutors know this and may not come to your defense as quickly as they might a lay witness with an objection that the defense is “being argumentative” or “harassing the witness.” Take this as the compliment it is. The prosecutor knows your credibility will shine through such challenges and knows the jury will become frustrated, impatient and finally angry with your attacker.


About the Author

About Valerie VanBrocklin

Described by Calibre Press as the indisputable master of enter~train~ment, Val Van Brocklin is an internationally acclaimed speaker, trainer and noted author. She combines a dynamic presentation style with years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor where her trial work received national media attention on ABC’s “Primetime Live,” the Discovery Channel’s “Justice Files,” in USA Today, The National Enquirer and Redbook. In addition to her personal appearances, Val appears in television, radio, webcasts, newspapers, journal articles and books.

 To subscribe, visit www.calibrepress.com


Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 



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How to Become a Death Investigator

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 09.35.31What is a Medicolegal Death Investigator?

The role of the medicolegal death investigator is to investigate any death that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner or coroner, including all suspicious, violent, unexplained and unexpected deaths. The medicolegal death investigator is responsible for the dead person, whereas the local law enforcement jurisdiction is responsible for the scene. The medicolegal death investigator performs scene investigations emphasizing information developed from the decedent and determines the extent to which further investigation is necessary. Medicolegal death investigators should have a combination of education and skills encompassing areas of medicine and law.

  1. Who can become a Medicolegal Death Investigator?
    There are no formal requirements to become a medicolegal death investigator. Each coroner and medical examiner office has different hiring practices. A medicolegal death investigator must be knowledgeable of local, state and federal laws. In addition, a medicolegal death investigator must be the most medically knowledgeable person at the scene of the crime to determine if further investigation is necessary.
  2. Do I have to have a degree?
    There are no formal educational requirements specifically for medicolegal death investigation. Any degree program dealing with Forensic Science, Natural science, Anthropology, Nursing, or any other medically related field would be useful. There are several established training courses available throughout the country that teach the basic information needed in order to perform a thorough, competent medicolegal death investigation.
  3. How much money will I make as a Medicolegal Death Investigator?
    An investigator’s salary will be determined by the jurisdiction and amount of experience the medicolegal death investigator has. Salaries and benefits vary throughout the United States.

What does a Forensic Science Technician do?

At a crime scene, a forensic science technician will typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalogue and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab. Forensic science technicians may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, a forensic science technician will typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, they may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.

What is the workplace of a Forensic Science Technician like?

Forensic science technicians must travel to different locations around a city or region because crimes can occur anywhere. Crime scene investigation can be distressing and unpleasant because investigators see many disturbing sights. Crime scene investigators work staggered day, evening, or night shifts and may have to work overtime because they must always be available to collect evidence.


This Episode’s Guest 

photoTerri Armenta

forensicscienceacadamy.com 

 

 

 


Coroner School™

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect, transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for a smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an  integral  role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of class room training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st century investigators.

 


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911 Call Takers and Coroner School

 

The stress of 911 call-takers

Mark Bond

Thursday, January 15, 2015

 

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that police departments have a single number for the public to call when they need police services. In 1968, Haleyville, Alabama, became the first city in the United States to start using the 911 system.

Over the next several years, the 911 emergency phone system rolled out across the United States with a campaign to educate the public to dial “9-1-1” to report an emergency. Today, the modern 911 call center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with police/fire dispatchers and 911 call-takers. These dedicated professionals are the lifeline for police and fire personnel dispatched to emergencies.

When the public calls 911 to report an emergency, the 911 call-taker answers the phone using the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. The 911 call-takers are able to view the incoming call address or nearest cross streets if using a cellphone.

The call-taker then codes the incoming call for dispatchers, sending it to the computer screens of police/fire dispatchers. The emergency dispatcher then determines which emergency units to send based on the information received from the 911 call-taker.

Nonstop stress

Working in a 911 call center is stressful. Hundreds of emergency calls are received during each shift, and it all starts with the 911 call-taker answering the phone with the standard “911 emergency, do you need police or fire?”

When citizens call 911, they are often panicking because they are in an emergency and need police or fire service immediately. The 911 call-taker is trained to stay calm and speak in a clear tone, get the address and nature of the call, and make an immediate decision so he/she can electronically code the call in the CAD system for dispatch.

The stress can be overwhelming at times:

  • A young mother is calling because her baby is not breathing, and she does not know how to perform CPR.
  • Another person calls at the same time to report the neighbor’s house is on fire, and there are elderly and children possibly trapped inside.
  • A few minutes later, another call comes in saying a motor vehicle accident is being reported with injuries.

The 911 call-takers and emergency dispatchers deal with people in crisis, and they are hysterical when they dial 911 for help. It takes a mature calming voice on the other end of the line to reassure and start help on the way.

The pace is nonstop, and seldom is there a break in the action before the next 911 call comes into the center, and the process repeats itself. The stress can be overwhelming, even for the most seasoned and resilient call-taker and emergency dispatcher.

The study

In 2012, professors Heather Pierce and Michelle Lilly from Northern Illinois University completed a study and published their work to the Journal of Traumatic Stress. The title of their research article is “Duty-related trauma exposure in 911 telecommunicators: Considering the risk for post-traumatic stress.”

The study found that 911 call-takers and emergency dispatchers reported significant emotional distress directly related to handling emergency calls for help, and the repeated exposure has increased their risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This does not indicate that those working in 911 centers are going to develop PTSD. It only means they are in a higher risk category and to ensure that stress management programs are available along with professional mental healthcare access.

Local and state governments have a responsibility to make sure that they have professional mental healthcare providers available to serve not only the police officers, firefighters and paramedics, but also for the 911 call-takers and emergency dispatchers. Without them, no emergency lifeline would be possible for citizens or first responders.


About the Author

Mark Bond

Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 29 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with summa cum laude honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education with a concentration in distance education. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at American Military University and American Public University and is one of the faculty directors in the School of Public Service and Health.


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Take this short 10 question survey to help  us tailor our podcast and training for you.

 

 


Coroner School™

This school is designed for anyone investigating death. Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of  law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

www.coronerschool.com

Coroner School™ is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video  training, along with opportunities of live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private Facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

Coroner School™ is a six week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks you still have access to all videos, downloadable material and the private Facebook group. You can return to the online school  anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.

 

 

 


Death Investigation Training Academy  has one goal; to provide the highest quality training using the most modern methods and technology. Death Investigation is all we do !  Many training agencies are well rounded and can fulfill the training needs in nearly every category of public policing and investigation.  At DITA we concentrate on death investigation and everything surrounding those investigations.  By becoming hyper-focused in this field we are better able to provide  intense and  specific training you and your investigators need.

 


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