Volume 49, Issue 2 (March 2004)
Crime Scene Ethics: Souvenirs, Teaching Material, and Artifacts
Police and forensic specialists are ethically obliged to preserve the integrity of their investigations and their agencies' reputations. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Canadian Society of Forensic Science provide no guidelines for crime scene ethics, or the retention of items from former crime scenes. Guidelines are necessary to define acceptable behavior relating to removing, keeping, or selling artifacts, souvenirs, or teaching specimens from former crime scenes, where such activities are not illegal, to prevent potential conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety.
Proposed guidelines permit the retention of objects with educational value, provided they are not of significance to the case, they are not removed until the scene is released, permission has been obtained from the property owner and police investigator, and the item has no significant monetary value. Permission is necessary even if objects appear discarded, or are not typically regarded as property, e.g., animal bones.