Police Tape & Chalk Outlines for Bodies

Discussion in 'Urban Legends & Folklore' started by GNC, Aug 12, 2017 at 5:11 PM.

  1. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

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    Another poser from the Mythconceptions column in FT 357 where someone asks if the police have ever put a chalk or white tape outline around a murdered corpse (doesn't have to be murdered, I suppose, could have been suspicious or dramatic circumstances). I've seen this in films and on TV, but do they do it in real life? Or did they used to and the practice has petered out?
     
  2. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    Yes - it has been done in real police work.

    However, it's now considered bad practice (mainly because it's a form of scene contamination). There still may be circumstances where it's done after sufficient photos have been taken for forensic purposes - e.g., when the body needs to be moved for some other pressing reason.

    I'm not sure it was ever universal / standard practice, as the TV / movie versions would lead you to believe.

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns...tors-really-draw-a-chalk-line-around-the-body

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_outline
     
  3. Bigphoot2

    Bigphoot2 Justified and Ancient

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    They were quite handy, even in drowning cases
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. RyoHazuki

    RyoHazuki Great Old One

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    I can't see any point to the practice, not since crime scene photographers stopped using large-format box cameras on tripods with glass slides and exploding flashbulbs. Unless, as the first link suggests, a living victim needs to be hospitalised before the pics can be taken - but then I doubt that situation was ever used on TV/movies anyway.


    :D

    "Sorry to trouble you at a time like this, ma'am. We would have come earlier, but your husband wasn't dead then"
     
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  5. Bigphoot2

    Bigphoot2 Justified and Ancient

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    I spoke to some of the forensic science folks at the place where I worked and they said they avoid watching crime show due to the damage they'd likely to do the telly by throwing things at it. Crime scenes are very highly managed and anyone there has to be there for a very good reason and wear protective clothing to prevent contaminating the scene, even having designated footpaths for people to walk on. No wandering about the scene in your normal clothes, picking things up without gloves and certainly no smoking cigars.
     
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  6. Shady

    Shady Bring me Dreamies Human

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    I never understood them on CSI when they are waltzing around with normal clothes on and also examining evidence with their hair hanging all over the place
     
  7. RyoHazuki

    RyoHazuki Great Old One

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    Jefferey Deaver's Rhyme books did a reasonably good job of showing how tedious and clinical crime-scene work really is, in a fictional setting. The other bits were frankly a bit daft, especially the tendency to put at least two twists in each chapter, but you can't have it all I guess.
     
  8. Bigphoot2

    Bigphoot2 Justified and Ancient

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    Val McDermid wrote a very interesting non-fiction book about forensic science - Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime. It's a non technical look at the work involved in forensic science. Worth reading if you have an interest in the subject. McDermid works very closely with forensic scientists when researching her books and even has a morgue named after her at Dundee University.
     
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  9. Coal

    Coal Sure, we're all wrong. Makes complete sense.

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    Seconded, a good book.
     
  10. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

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    The author of the Mythconceptions letter said they worked for the police, and had never seen the outline used, so presumably it was phased out before they started working for them.
     
  11. Altria

    Altria Phantom

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    Come to think of it I have never seen a real crime scene photo/video with the infamous chalk line.What would be the benifit,I do see little flags but. I think that's for shellcasings.
     
  12. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    The chalk outline was intended to illustrate the location and orientation / positioning of a body for the benefit of anyone inspecting the scene after the body had been removed.
     
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