2nd Edition

Underwater Forensic Investigation

ISBN 9781466507500
Published May 23, 2013 by CRC Press
371 Pages 87 Color Illustrations

USD $120.00

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Book Description

The evidence discovered at underwater crime scenes must be handled with the same attention to proper chain of custody procedures as with any other type of investigation. Improper handling of these scenes can lead to evidence being lost, unrecognizable, destroyed, contaminated, or rendered inadmissible at the time of trial. Updated and expanded, Underwater Forensic Investigation, Second Edition presents a comprehensive approach to the processing of an underwater crime scene and the steps necessary to conduct the operation.

The book summarizes the history, physics, and laws applicable to underwater investigations and includes topics such as team formation, roles, deployment, and accountability. Explaining procedures that can make a true difference in the final outcome of water-related incidents, the author also debunks myths associated with submerged evidence.

This second edition contains several new chapters on photography, contaminated sites, preservation of evidence, and release of the crime scene, and includes expanded information on death investigation and organizing the dive team. Nearly 100 color illustrations supplement the text.

The science of water-related investigations is still in its infancy, and hence, the field needs accurate and useful sources of education. This text will assist law enforcement professionals and those in other areas of public safety in gaining the knowledge that has historically been lacking. The incorporation of the procedures presented will enable those tasked with working these scenes to develop a greater degree of professionalism, objectivity, thoroughness, and accuracy relating to the investigation of water-related incidents—increasing the chance for successful resolution of these difficult cases.

Table of Contents

New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Man and the Sea
Law Enforcement and Underwater Evidence
Myth 1
Myth 2
Myth 3
Myth 4
Myth 5
Myth 6
Myth 7
Myth 8
Myth 9
Myth 10
A Brief History of Underwater Investigation
New Words and Concepts
Learning Outcomes
Diving History
Diving Dress
Caisson Disease
The Cause of Decompression Sickness
Nitrogen Narcosis
Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
Underwater Investigation
Some Important Dates in the History of SCUBA Diving
An Explanation of Pressure and the Laws of Boyle, Charles, Dalton, and Henry
New Words or Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Recognize Charles Law
Nitrogen Narcosis
Decompression Sickness
Oxygen Toxicity
The Underwater Forensic Investigator
New Words and Concepts
Learning Outcomes
Beginning Perspectives
Standardized Selection and Operations
Swimming Skills
Diving Skills
Incident Command Structure
Incident Commander
Dive Team Coordinator
Public Information Officer
Incident Safety Officer
Team Structure
Dive Team Coordinating Board
Team Members
Team Leader
Intelligence Officer
Lift Specialists
Equipment Specialist
Medical Officer
Training Coordinator
The Law of Search and Seizure
New Words and Concepts
Learning Outcomes
The U.S. Constitution and Due Process
The Fourth Amendment
The Fifth Amendment
The Sixth Amendment
The Exclusionary Rule
Emergency Searches
Warrantless Searches Based on Reasonableness
Consent Searches
Plain-View Searches
Open-Field Exception
The Underwater Crime Scene
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Search Briefing
Bottom Structure
Surf, Waves, and Tide
Perimeter Marking
Boat Searches
Search Patterns
Random Search
Sweep Searches
Parallel Searches
Circular Search
Snag Search
River Search
Relocating the Search Site
Temporal and Geographical Location of Evidence
Establishing a Reference Point
Crime Scene Measurements
Orienting Evidence
Grid Searches
The Underwater Crime Scene Sketch
Handling Evidence
The Press
Underwater Photography
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Taking Pictures Underwater
Photographic Log
Video-Recording Log
Photographing the Underwater Crime Scene
Video Recording
Logging Photos
Medicolegal Aspects of Underwater Death
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Unattended Water Deaths
Body Recovery
Identification of Submerged Bodies
Postmortem Changes
Algor Mortis
Rigor Mortis
Ocular Changes
Livor Mortis (Postmortem Lividity)
Errors in Interpreting Postmortem Changes
Postmortem Interval
Anthropophagi (Marine Depredation)
Antemortem, Postmortem, and Perimortem Injuries
Mass Disasters
Firearms Recovery and Investigation
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Recovering Firearms
Firearms Investigation
Ballistics Testing
Weapon Identification
Firearm Identification
National Integrated Ballistics Information Network
Types of Firearms
The Firing Mechanism
Types of Bullets
Cartridge Cases
The Early History of the Examination of Firearms
Examination of Weapons
Examination of Bullets
Rifling Twists
Land and Groove Width
Bullet Comparisons
Examination of Cartridge Cases
Examination Objectives
Legal Aspects
Class Characteristics
Cartridge Evidence
Chain of Custody
Expert Testimony
Aircraft and Vehicle Investigations
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Locating the Aircraft
Measuring the Debris Field
Handling Evidence
Aircraft Recovery
Vehicle Investigations
Vehicular Drownings
Vehicle Recoveries
Recovery Checklist
Vessel Recoveries
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Nautical Terms and Measurement
Contents xi
Boat Accident Investigation
Propeller Injuries
Boat Accident Report
Boat Data
Accident Data
Vessel Fire
Vessel Explosions
Arson or Detonation Checklist
Light Filaments
Preparing Dive Teams for Major Investigations
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Dry Suits
Dive Helmets
Tether Harnesses
Buoyancy Control Devices
Lifting Buoyancy
Alternative Air Supply
Face Masks
Regulators, Gauges, and Computers
Diver: From Top to Bottom
Support Personnel
Review Questions
Diving in Contaminated Water
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Biological Contaminants
Chemical Contaminants
Contaminated Water Equipment
Using Experts and Evidence in the Courtroom
New Words and Concepts
Learning Outcomes
Preparing for Trial
Chain of Custody
Diagrams, Maps, Plats
Video Recordings
Physical Evidence
Multiple Predicates
The Underwater Investigator as an Expert Witness
Scientific Evidence
Defense Lawyers, Prosecutors, and Investigators
New Words and Concepts
Student Learning Outcomes
Defensive Burden
Affirmative Defenses
Defense Strategies
Suppression Hearings
The Prosecution
In-Court Identification
Elements of the Offense
Testimonial Devices to Avoid the Truth
Error-Free Investigations
Ethical Testimony

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Professor Becker completed his studies for a Bachelor of Science degree in Police Science at Sam Houston State University in 1969. He went on to finish his Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Texas Agricultural & Mechanical University in 1972. A short hiatus from higher education found him with The Mineral County Montana Sheriff’s Office culminating his work there as a criminal investigator and leaving for St. Mary’s Law School in 1981.

Upon completion of his law studies and passing the Texas Bar Examination in 1983, he became a partner in the general litigation firm of Gish, Radtke, and Becker in Boerne, Texas. The firm became a successful personal injury litigation practice. During that time, Professor Becker served as the Boerne Municipal Court Judge, County Judge, and Juvenile Court Judge.

In 1991, he began a teaching career at Texas State University in the Criminal Justice Department. In 1994, he created a facility for training public safety divers in underwater investigation based on a forensic protocol. As director of the Underwater Institute, he started the Texas State University Underwater Institute’s Annual Public Safety Diver Seminar and Competition. This annual event drew recovery divers from all over the country and was held at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, each year during Spring Break.

As a tenured Full Professor, he has published four books and four editions to this criminal investigation text. During his tenure, he has published numerous articles and textbook chapters.

Ron began work at Chaminade University on July 8, 2002 as Chair for the Criminology and Criminal Justice Program. Since that time, he has streamlined the graduate and undergraduate curricula, created an on-line Masters of Criminal Justice Administration tract and a MSCJA specialty tract in Homeland Security as a Partnership School with the Naval Post Graduate School. He was promoted to full professor in the fall of 2006. He has worked as an underwater recovery consultant for the Honolulu Police Department and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Each summer he conducts a workshop in "Underwater Forensic Investigation". Professor Becker is a member of the Hawaii Emergency Preparedness Executive Consortium and an advisory board member for the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial.



"Ron Becker is an accomplished criminal investigator turned personal injury attorney and judge. He took a fascination for the history of marine archaeology and underwater search and recovery and coupled it with his passion for forensic science and criminal law procedure in the pursuit of educating others in underwater forensic investigations. He is the author of the second edition of Underwater Forensic Investigation, published in 2013 by CRC Press. The text, which is 351 pages divided into 15 chapters, is a comprehensive view of this emerging area of criminal investigations. ... If you are an aspiring underwater forensic investigator, this book will encourage you to expand your knowledge of dry-land forensic crime scene processing and modern forensic techniques. For the police and crime lab administrator who may have a more historical view of this subject matter, the book effectively creates awareness and understanding of the benefits to ensuring any team operating in your service area does so with an eye on scientific rigor and commitment to building technical skill."
—B. Kroupa, RTI International, in Forensic Science Review, Vol. 26, No. 1