As a child, television and films are what affects our views a lot, especially the job description of certain people. The way these professionals are portrayed on television isn’t completely wrong. However, we can’t choose our careers based on what is shown on something popularly dubbed as “The Idiot Box”. As far as a detective goes, shows like Sherlock, Criminal Minds, True Detective and movies like Se7en, Zodiac, Silence of the Lambs affect our presumptions. But how true are these serials and movies? Let’s find out what a detective does
What Does A Detective Do?
Crime Scene Investigation
One of the main duties of a detective is to analyze a crime scene and deduce certain assumptions from it. The detectives find and bag evidence at the scene of the crime. They are supposed to take anything into custody that may look suspicious and may be used for clues or in the court later. Sometimes the forensic investigation department lends them a hand in analyzing the evidence and thus helping them deduce more things about the crime. They are also supposed to go door to door and gather more evidence from eye witnesses or search for cameras wherever they might be installed.
An important aspect of a detective’s duties is to research previous case files in their free time. They do so to gain more knowledge about criminal behavior and identify patterns that people usually follow. Often, research into the past and previous case files give them an idea or a clue as to how the current culprit might be operating. In cases of serial killers or ‘copycats’, research helps a lot. It also helps to identify tactics that a drug cartel might be using thus helping the detectives shut them down. Other general research can help them narrow down a suspect better or deduce the crime scene in a more efficient way.
Narrowing down suspects
The whole objective of everything that a detective does is to serve justice to the person who has committed the crime. But to do this, they first need to a list of possible suspects. This suspect pool maybe as big as 100 people or as small as none. They create this suspect list by drawing conclusions from the evidence gathered at the crime, eyewitnesses, research and a bit of criminal/forensic psychology. This suspect pool is then narrowed down by getting alibis from some suspects and interrogating others. After they narrow it down as much as possible, they collect hard evidence or get the suspect to confess to the crimes.
One of the final jobs of a detective on a case is to ensure that justice is served. To help with the process, they are sometimes summoned to the court to testify against the suspect(s). They either narrate a possible scenario of how the crime was committed, describe how the evidence incriminates the suspect or provide their expert views on certain topics. Sometimes, the detectives are also required to escort the culprit to jail.
All the above duties were that of a public detective or a law enforcement detective. A private detective’s job description is a bit loose. They are supposed to carry out their client’s wishes to the best of their abilities as far as reconnaissance is concerned. However, they are allowed to only bend certain laws to a minimalistic extent to help them complete their duties. A private detective is usually hired to perform background checks, keep a check on the actions of certain people, track finances, collect evidence against someone or work of similar nature. They have to be subtle in their ways and act as a normal citizen in carrying out the duties of a detective. They are however, not allowed to arrest anyone.
As you can see, the “Idiot Box” was right for the most part. But the jobs that these detectives (private and public) must undergo daily are stressful beyond comparison. That is never shown properly on television or anywhere else. They are always supposed to look over their shoulder and ensure they do not miss any single clue since lives literally depend on them. If the job still has you intrigued, then find out how long it takes to become a detective now!