Reviews:

Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition



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Detective Mark Czworniak
Violent Crimes Unit
Area North Detective Bureau
Chicago Police Department

Edwin T. Dreher, Deputy Chief (Ret.)
Office of the Chief of Detectives
New York City Police Department

Lieutenant Larry Hallmark
Criminal Investigation Division
Grapevine Police Department, Grapevine, Texas

Det. Jeff Locklear
Police Specialist
Fayetteville Homicide
Fayetteville, North Carolina PD

Anny Sauvageau, Chief Medical Examiner
Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Marvin Skeen, Chief Criminal Investigator
Office of Attorney General
State of Washington Homicide Investigation Tracking System

Sheriff Heath Taylor
Russell County Sheriff's Office, Phenix City Alabama

Sgt. Sam Todd (Ret.)
Kent, Ohio Police Department

Barbara C. Wolf, M.D., Chief ME
District 5, Florida


This newly revised Practical Homicide Investigation Second Edition Checklist & Field is a must for any death or investigator homicide investigator as well as Coroners, Medical Examiners and other first responders such as Patrol Officers or Emergency Medical Technicians.

This Checklist & Field Guideis primarily formatted as an approach to recognizing different crimes scene and utilizing the check off lists, to develop well defined steps to take during the course of your investigation.

Vernon Geberth, an internationally renowned authority on homicide, first developed the checklist approach to murder investigations in his first edition of the Practical Homicide Investigation: Checklist and Field Guide in 1996 based on his seminal textbook Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques.

At that time it was a logical companion text to his premier text, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques (3rd Edition) now available as the 4th edition published in 2006).

This Field Guide summarizes and prioritizes the basic fundamentals of Homicide and Death Investigations, and places them in an easy to use field guide to insure that vital and necessary steps at a crime scene, were not overlooked. This Field Guide will allow the user to develop a logical and standard approach to investigating crime scenes, which will enable the investigator to "Do it right the first time."

This newly revised practical how-to guide contains many of the checklists from Practical Homicide Investigation Fourth Edition that leads you step-by-step through procedures, tactics, and forensic techniques used in sudden death and violent death investigations.

It is laid out in an easy to use, spiral bound binding, printed on heavy laminated card stock to insure a long life.

This Checklist & Field Guide has been thoroughly updated from the First edition, and highlights steps in recovering digital evidence from computer and cellular devices, which were still in their infancy back in 1996. Digital photography in crime scene documentation was nonexistent in 1996, and this guide addresses the acceptance and incorporation of its use in modern crime scene processing.

It also features updates and additional chapters in suicide and equivocal death investigations, Autoerotic fatalities and other sex-related deaths, SIDS and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

The content is well organized and, fittingly, uses full color, medicolegal art to allow visualization of the many topics covered. The writing is concise and easy to understand.

There are many practical recommendations made in this field guide that will contribute to thorough, quality investigations. I personally highly recommend that the dedicated homicide cop avail themselves of this invaluable resource.

Detective Mark Czworniak
Violent Crimes Unit
Area North Detective Bureau
Chicago Police Department


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I have just received my advance copy of the Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist & Field Guide, Second Edition for Review, which is based on Practical Homicide Investigation, Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques Fourth Edition has long been considered the "Bible of Homicide Investigation".

Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist & Field Guide, Second Edition provides first responders, police personnel, medical examiners and coroners as well as police supervisors and trial attorneys with the essential checklists from that lead you step-by-step through procedures, tactics, and forensic techniques that are mandatory in sudden and violent death investigations. Using these checklists will ensure that a proper and complete investigation is undertaken at the death scene.

This new Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist & Field Guide, Second Edition is indexed by the type of crime or incident for quick and easy reference and supplemented by color anatomical diagrams that are state-of-the-art in medical legal drawings. This second edition has also been newly revised with the most current information and updates in forensic technology.

The new Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist & Field Guide, Second Edition is compact and light weight and is indexed for the type of crime for quick and easy reference. It can be brought to the field and has been laminated to be used in inclement weather. The Checklist & Field Guide has been designed with its strong wire binding, for durability and field application.

As a former Deputy Chief of the NYPD working in the Office of the Chief of Detectives, I would encourage and recommend that detectives who are charged with the responsibility of conducting death investigations have this Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist & Field Guide, Second Edition in their hands at the scene of the crime.

Edwin T. Dreher, Deputy Chief (Ret.)
Office of the Chief of Detectives
New York City Police Department


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I am really impressed with the new Checklist and Field Guide. It is sturdier, and the thicker laminated pages make it much more effective for field use. I appreciate how you gone into more detail throughout, but especially the expansion of the sections on suicides, crime scene sketches, supervisor's checklist, and collection of evidence.

The addition of the section on collecting electronic and digital evidence is so important with the way technology is in everyone's hands today. The color illustrations and graphics are so helpful at the scene, and assist the investigator in describing the scene, the victim, and the injuries.

This Second Edition of the Checklist and Field Guide should be required equipment for every cop, not just detectives. Thank you for the opportunity to review this professional work.

Lieutenant Larry Hallmark
Criminal Investigation Division
Grapevine Police Department, Grapevine, Texas


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Over the years I have attended all three of Vernon's courses , Practical Homicide Investigation, Advanced Practical Homicide Investigation and Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation. In addition to attending the courses I have purchased all three text books and they serve as the core of my investigative ideology. Simply put, if you aren't using the principles and methods taught in these text books you're probably doing it wrong.

Vernon's ability to get your attention, keep it and then have you retain the information is top shelf to say the least. The information is written in such a manner that a rookie patrol officer could very easily take the checklist to an active crime scene, employ the techniques and principles provided within and then later testify in court as to what he did and why. The book is built in a robust, sturdy fashion that can withstand the rigors of everyday police life. The larger binder and bigger rings make it that much more user friendly.

You can tell this book was constructed with use at the crime scene in mind and not just to look pretty on someone's desk. I highly recommend the Practical Homicide Investigation checklist and field guide to anyone tasked with investigating suspicious death. There is a reason Vernon Geberth's books are considered the definitive publications when it comes to death investigation, there are none any better.

If I could have only one series of books available to me during a homicide investigation it would hands down be Vernon Geberth's series. I highly recommend the checklist and strongly urge anyone working in the fast paced ever changing field of Homicide investigation to get it and more importantly use it.

Detective Jeff Locklear
Police Specialist, Fayetteville Homicide
LFayetteville, North Carolina PD

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This newly revised Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist and Field Guide is one of the most useful tools that an investigator can utilize at the scene of an unattended death.

It is neatly packaged into a concise and handy format, but it is also extensively exhaustive, ensuring that not anything is forgotten.

Since there is only one chance to do the painstakingly death scene work properly, this Checklist and Field Guide is a security blanket that will protect against regrets of what could have been done or done differently, especially during those crucial first moments of the investigation.

This Checklist and Field Guide is a no nonsense practical approach from Mr. Geberth, who is considered The Master of practical death Investigations.

Anny Sauvageau
Chief Medical Examiner
Alberta, Edmonton, Canada


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A crime scene MUST at every homicide investigation in the hands of a detective or their immediate supervisor is a copy of PHI's Checklist and Field Guide Second Edition.

This Checklist and Field Guide covers every aspect of the homicide crime scene investigation. And it is very practical with its color illustrations and pages which are weather proof and also writeable. No agency should be without them.

Marvin Skeen, Chief Criminal Investigator
Office of Attorney General
State of Washington Homicide Investigation Tracking System


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I was excited to obtain a copy of the Practical Homicide Investigation Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition after successfully using the first edition Checklist and Field Guide since 1991 when I attended my first Practical Homicide Investigations Course.

With 26 years of law enforcement experience, 20 years of which were in Investigations, I understand the difficulties for responders being from a medium sized department with few homicides. Practical Homicide Investigation: Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition provides a prioritized step by step checklist. The Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition breaks down information into the individual duties for the Officer, Detective, and Supervisor. As the death investigation progresses the Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition moves with the responders and provides a quick and informative reference.

The information provided in the Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition sets the standard for Homicide Investigations with examples, algorithms, options to consider, and tasks to perform.

The construction of the Checklist and Field Guide, Second Edition is built for the rigors of the field with laminated pages, wire spiral binding, and large print. The color medical legal art provides responders with anatomical and injury based illustrations of the highest quality and is a great addition to the second edition.

I would recommend the Practical Homicide Investigation: Checklist and Field Guide Second Edition for anyone who is responsible for processing, investigating, supervising, or prosecuting homicides.

Sheriff Heath Taylor
Russell County Sheriff's Office
Phenix City Alabama


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Whether you are a long time veteran or rookie cop this field guide is a must have tool for your day to day operations. The comprehensive and step by step guides for the various type of crime scene will help anyone working to do the right thing. As Vernon notes many times: "Do it right the first time. You only get one chance". No truer statement can be made. Agencies may not handle some noted crimes on a regular basis so having this guide will do nothing but help the investigator do an efficient and effective investigation. Vernon is a true professional and will not steer you wrong, add this to your investigative library today.

Sgt. Sam Todd (Ret.)
Kent, Ohio Police Department


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The second edition of Vernon Geberth’s Practical Homicide Investigation, Checklist and Field Guide is a comprehensive and easy to use companion to Lieutenant Commander Geberth’s definitive texts on medicolegal death investigation, Practical Homicide Investigation, Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques and Sex-Related Homicide Death Investigation. This step by step guide provides checklists highlighting the key points necessary for the thorough investigation of many different death scenarios. The elegant color illustrations and diagrams are also very useful references. Practical Homicide Investigation, Checklist and Field Guide is an invaluable resource for law enforcement officers and all crime scene and medicolegal death investigators.

Barbara C. Wolf, M.D.
District Medical Examiner
District 5, Florida


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