Westfield Police Insight by Leonard Lugo

The Criminal Investigation: Factors Leading to Success in Investigatory Efforts

Police detectives, such as Leonard Leonard of the Westfield Police Department has a singular mission: to bring criminals to justice. The way in which this mission is supported can lead to failure or to success; it is imperative that law enforcement officials adhere to a rigorous process in order to achieve success. 

The Successful Investigation Defined

Successful investigations are based on the detective’s or investigative team’s fidelity, accuracy, and sincerity in lawfully searching for the true facts of an event under investigation, such as a serious crime. Success also comes from an equal focus on accuracy, faithfulness, and probity in memorializing the results of an investigation.

Communication: The Essential Skill for a Criminal Investigator

Studies conducted on the role of criminal investigators have revealed a set of essential skills. Without these skills, a detective may not reach success. To be a successful criminal investigator, one skill stands out: communication. In a book called Investigative Interviewing, published in 2014, the authors polled law enforcement professionals on what they perceived as the most important factor for success. Overwhelmingly, respondents indicated that communication skills were critical. 

Detectives must uncover the facts behind criminal activity. This means they must speak to any number of people, from witnesses to a crime to the victims and family members of a crime. By leveraging communication skills, successful detectives are better able to piece together the facts leading up to the crime. Communication is not only important for the investigative process, but it can also spell success for the next stages of any investigation. Once witness and victim statements are collected, suspects interviewed, and evidence analyzed, successful detectives must then synthesize these components into case files. Detectives may be called upon to testify in court, and communication skills are key in this part of the legal process. By clearly recording and sharing the facts underpinning a case, detectives provide powerful evidentiary testimony that can promote positive outcomes. 

Continued Education for Investigators

To establish the groundwork for success in police investigations, law enforcement officials must adopt a mindset of continuing education. Detectives have myriad opportunities for learning, such as advanced training programs, conferences, and seminars. Many detectives go beyond local training and may attend courses offered by state and federal law enforcement agencies. Learning new skills is crucial, and investigators who take part in advanced training programs have a better chance of success in criminal investigations, no matter the crime that led to the investigation. 

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