Investigation Process

Who is in charge of the investigation?

The primary investigator of the file is responsible for conducting an investigation, and preparing it for trial. The primary investigator along with the investigative team will work with many other officers and law enforcement agencies. If the primary investigator transfers or retires, the case is re-assigned and the investigation continues without interruption. If this occurs, you will be notified of the changes. It is important to understand a homicide or missing person where foul play is suspected is investigated and nev-er concluded; it remains open and active until it is solved.

4 investigators at work on a table with laptop and papers

What are the investigational steps?

Every investigation begins with police gathering physical, electronic, and eye-witness evidence. They process evidence, assess its value and follow the evidence where it’s leading. Often this requires additional interviews with witnesses, family members or further laboratory tests as evidence is collected.

As a family member, you will be contacted and interviewed. This is common and necessary, and may be intrusive at times. The investigator needs to learn about you and your family member(s) because it may tell the investigator what they might have been doing at the time of the incident. Any information you provide can be important. Questions about sensitive information may be uncomfortable. The investigator is not asking these questions to make judgments or form opinions, but rather to learn about your family member’s behaviours, and assist the investigation. The information you provide can tell the investigator about your family member’s hobbies, friends, and places they most often visit. All of this information is important in an investigation.  

Why won’t the investigator answer the phone when I call?

We understand you are worried about your loved one, and may be concerned with the progress of an investigation. The investigator may not answer the phone when you call for a handful of reasons. The investigators work hours which are often not consistent throughout the week and weekend. They attend court frequently, are often out of the office looking for evidence, following up on leads, which does not al-low them to always answer the phone. However, if you leave a message or email them, either they or the primary investigator will contact you.

Question mark in bubble

While the police will try to give you as much information as possible, occasionally the law and privacy prevents it. For example, if you or someone else is required as a witness in court, it will compromise the investigation to share some details with you, which will be used as evidence.

Why won’t police tell me the information about my case?

The timeliness of an arrest depends greatly on the investigation, its circumstances and complexities. Some arrests can be made within hours while others can take days, weeks, months, or sometimes years. It is important to remember, however, that there is no time limit when a person can be charged regardless of when the murder occurred. The case is not concluded until a resolution is reached.  

An arrest typically occurs faster when witnesses (which could include family) are cooperative. Witnesses do not always cooperate. It may be they know the perpetrator and are afraid of them, and /or simply do not want to be involved.

If a witness does not cooperate, it does not mean they are involved in the crime. It is important to know police will do everything they can to encourage those reluctant witnesses to cooperate.

Evidence gathering and analysis

Evidence is gathered from many places during the course of an investigation. The examination and analysis of that evidence is often specialized and can be complex. It can sometimes take months for the results of that analysis to be made available to the investigative team by the Forensic Lab. To an outsider these processes may seem to take a long time. Rest assured the lab technicians and the investigative team is doing everything possible to extract the best evidence that will assist the investigation; those examinations are very important and cannot be rushed.

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