How OPDV Can Help
Overview of the Issue: Initial Law Enforcement Officer Response
Observations, Statement and Reports: A Law Enforcement Checklist
The purpose of this checklist is to help identify and gather evidence and essential information. Accurate Domestic Incident Reports (DIRs) can provide the context of current acts and the basis for follow-up investigation. This includes documenting:
- All applicable current and prior suspect behavior toward victim
- History of police response to the same location and/or the same parties involved
- Exact statements made by victim, suspect, and others at the scene
- These include anything considered as “venting” or “ranting”
Reports should also include:
- What you heard or saw when approaching the scene
- Signs of a forced entry
- Any use or threatened use of weapons
- Evidence of destroyed and/or stolen property
- Anything done to defuse
- Defusing tactics used and/or anything done to stabilize the situation
- Administer first aid, if needed, and note if treated by medical personnel.
- Describe the victim's location upon arrival.
- Note time dispatched, arrived, and when victim initially spoke.
- Record any excited utterances and spontaneous statements made by the victim.
- Describe the victim's emotional condition.
- Describe the victim's physical condition, including size in relation to the suspect.
- Note victim's relationship with suspect.
- Note if victim is pregnant.
- Describe any visible injuries in detail (size, location, and coloration.)
- Describe other suspected injuries.
- Record history of abuse and history of court orders.
- Record contact number/address for victim where she/he can be safely contacted.
- Provide copy of Domestic Incident Report (DIR) and Victim Rights Notice.
- Refer immediately to appropriate victim services, if needed.
- Administer first aid to the suspect and note if medical treatment will be sought.
- Describe suspect's location upon arrival.
- Record any spontaneous statements made by the suspect.
- Describe the suspect's emotional condition.
- Describe the suspect's physical condition.
- Describe visible or suspected injuries.
- Document evidence of the use of drugs or alcohol by the suspect.
- Ask the suspect if he/she is aware of the terms of applicable court orders.
- Ask the suspect if he/she wants to make a statement.
- Assess whether the suspect is on probation/parole.
Note: Remember Miranda Requirements re: Custodial Interrogation!
- Interview the reporting party.
- Identify all witnesses/potential witnesses (e.g., neighbors, bystanders), and interview them separately.
- Record all witnesses' home and email addresses and phone numbers.
- List names and ages of all children present.
- Separately interview the children.
- Record names of emergency personnel who assisted.
- Identify treating emergency room staff and physician, if applicable.
- Photograph/Video the crime scene, including:
- "Full body" photo of victim, then move in for closer photos, if needed.
- Injuries to the victim/suspect/witnesses
- Children present at the scene
- Property destruction
- Impound/take into evidence all weapons/dangerous instruments used or threatened
- Assess for animal abuse.
- Assess if any threats made on cell phones, email, cards or letters.
- As legally allowable, seize weapons for safekeeping.
- If possible, video or tape record statements.
- Attach related reports, supplemental statements, photos and evidence tags