The agency, when possible, should create a 24-hour hotline for local law enforcement and the general public. Be proactive and monitor media outlets for news of alcohol-related tragedies that may require a source investigation. Provide first responders with the name(s) and contact number(s) of the source investigation investigators/agents.
When opening a source investigation, begin with the proper notification of supervisors and your chain of command. If notification of a possible source investigation is immediate, respond to the scene of the crash per agency policy or protocol. If notification is not immediate, begin the investigation as soon as possible. Note the investigation is essentially the same whether responding to the scene of the incident or the vehicle impound yard. Keep in mind preservation of evidence has a critical timeline.
If responding to the scene of the crash remember the source investigation is secondary to the primary first responder's investigation. Seek permission from the officer in charge of the scene to conduct the source investigation. Once permission is granted adhere to your training, skills, and knowledge when inspecting a crime scene.
1Source investigations can be conducted for any type of alcohol-related injury or death. However, for the purposes of this toolkit, we refer to all incidents as alcohol-related traffic crashes and many of the tips and training in the toolkit are specifically geared toward alcohol-related traffic incidents where alcohol was sold or consumed at a licensed establishment.
Maintain proper equipment and have equipment readily available so you will be prepared when a source investigation opportunity is identified. Suggested equipment to have on-hand includes:
After obtaining authorization to enter the crash scene, approach with care and keep in mind your established training in crime scene inspections. While at the scene, be sure to:
To ensure a comprehensive source investigation, agents need to inspect the vehicles involved in the crash and, possibly, the retail premises where alcohol was obtained. Additionally, agents may need to work with the medical examiner or coroner when gathering evidence.
When searching a vehicle, use the following steps to conduct a systematic inspection of the vehicle:
Determine whom your witnesses are, which may include:
Source investigations should be monitored and accounted for as a distinct task within your agency. Establish a system for collecting key information about the elements necessary to conduct a source investigation.
Notifying Victim's Family of Process
In an effort of goodwill it is recommended that the victim's family be kept apprised of the process of the source investigation. Be sure to:
Completing a source investigation report should not be any different than completing other backtrack investigation reports. Follow the department or agency's protocol or format when completing the report. However, if the agency does not have an established protocol or format in completing investigative reports, include the following: