YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Every crime scene tells a story. But putting the characters, setting, antagonist and victim together in a way that leads to a suspect is what a retired Norfolk, Va. police detective has done.
David Newman is the creator of Inside the Tape, a program that teaches local law enforcement how to better process crime scenes.
Newman knows something about catching criminals. His department was known regionally for clearing crime scenes and getting convictions. The word spread about his team and other police departments asked him to share his technique.
Newman is conducting a three-day workshop at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office in Youngstown. The classes are open to all law enforcement in the area.
“Our focus is to try and define who the suspect is based on interacting with the victim at the scene,” said Newman. “It all starts with the patrol. We have a one-day program just for that reason. It then extends through the detectives and victimology.”
Inside the Tape takes a crime from the 911 call to court proceedings and resolution of the case. Newman says there is a checklist or map that should be followed as protocol at every crime scene where the focus is to identify a suspect.
“From the get go how to analyze a 911 phone call and how to identify the caller as a potential suspect. That is where we start. It leads us to the crime scene and is that consistent with what the caller said,” said Newman.
Newman said a secondary crime scene can sometimes be as important as where the crime actually happened. The victim’s car, workplace, where a weapon was thrown away, are all part of the evidence gathering process and should be detailed, down to the weather.
Gathering all the crime scene evidence should lead to a profile of a suspect. Newman said the key to naming a suspect is knowing the victim.
“When you go to court to resolve the case, you should know the victim like one of your family members,” said Newman.
Major William Cappabianca with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department said that not only is the training extremely helpful, it also brings law enforcement together in the tri-county area where ongoing cases can be discussed.
“We are not only learning new techniques, the networking that happens is invaluable,” said Cappabianca.
Since 2001, Inside the Tape has held courses nationwide for more than 1,000 law enforcements agencies.