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Preliminary Investigations Manual

NCJ Number
Date Published
60 pages
This procedure manual for preliminary investigations discusses the objectives and steps in a preliminary investigation.
The preliminary investigation is the police agency's first response to a report that a crime has occurred. As in every investigative effort, the primary objective of the preliminary investigation is to determine who committed the crime and to apprehend the offender. The preliminary investigation collects evidence which supports that a crime has occurred, the identification of the offender, and the arrest and subsequent conviction of the offender. The framework of the preliminary investigation is based on the following major tasks: (1) verification that an offense has occurred; (2) identification of the victim, the place of the crime, and the time of the crime; (3) identification of solvability factors; (4) communication of the circumstances of the crime; and (5) the identification of those investigative tasks completed and those yet to be done. Twelve solvability factors are witnesses to the crime, a suspect's name, knowledge of where a suspect can be located, description of a suspect, identification of a suspect, property with identifiable characteristics, existence of a significant method of operation, a description of the car used by the suspect, positive results from a crime scene evidence search, belief that the crime may be solved with publicity and reasonable additional investigative effort, and an opportunity for but one person to have committed the crime. Forms used by the Rochester Police Department (N.Y.) in its preliminary investigations are provided.