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
Introduction. A Brief History of Underwater Investigation. An Explanation of Pressure and the Laws of Boyle, Charles, Dalton, and Henry. The Underwater Forensic Investigator. The Law of Search and Seizure. The Underwater Crime Scene. Underwater Photography. Medicolegal Aspects of Underwater Death. Firearms Recovery and Investigation. Aircraft and Vehicle Investigations. Vessel Recoveries. Equipment. Diving in Contaminated Water. Using Experts and Evidence in the Courtroom. Defense Lawyers, Prosecutors, and Investigators. Index.
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.