Before I get into actually taking the photographic evidence, I want to discuss camera phones. The best advice that I can give you is, DON’T use your camera phone or let anyone else on scene use their camera phone. All pictures taken are evidence; including one’s taken on your personal camera phone. IF you should have no other option than to use your camera phone, then there are several things you do need to do and one thing you shouldn’t. After taking the pictures, then upon return to station you need to upload them to an agency computer. After uploading, you then delete them from your phone immediately. This is the protocol I was given for my state, which maybe different where you are. I would advise that you contact your District Attorney’s office for protocols in your area. The biggest DON’T involving your camera phone is sending the pictures via messaging, email or to social media sites. DO NOT get yourself into a bind by doing that.
When it comes to taking photographic evidence, we do not want pictures full of blood. There is a right time and a wrong time to take pictures. Taking pictures as the medics are attempting to stop the bleeding, cleaning the bite wound, etc. is not the time to be taking pictures. If you are going to take a picture of the open would, it is best that blood not being flowing, or show any bloody towels or gauze. The only actual red spot you should see in the picture is the wound itself. Also, watch out for anything in the picture frame that may have Betadine on it. Although Betadine is not blood, it can appear to be in a picture.
When you go to take the pictures, start out with an overall view of the suspect. That means one or more pictures that shows the suspect from head to toe, and shows the location of injuries, whether they be bite wounds or other injuries. Remember, words don’t paint a picture as well as a photograph. You want the picture(s) to show what the suspect was wearing, any and all injuries and any other identifying characteristics such as tattoos. After the overall view picture(s), then proceed to take closer shots of the suspect’s injuries and identifying characteristics. By having pictures of the injuries and where on the body they are, the suspect can’t make up lies about other fictitious injuries.
If due to circumstances you’re unable to take pictures at the scene, don’t worry, you can still take them at the hospital. If you have to take the pictures at the hospital, follow the same advice as above. Make sure it is a clean area, no blood or Betadine anywhere in the picture. If the suspect is to receive stitches and you are unable to take pictures before s/he is stitched up, still take all the above described pictures of the suspect, including the stitched up wound(s).
A couple of things to remember; when it comes to blood in pictures, the suspect’s attorney will play the sympathy card in court. They will show the bloody pictures to the jury to try and get sympathy and make you out to be the bad guy. One last thing, those pictures you took of the suspect will show the jury a true picture of the suspect, for who s/he really is, not the clean and dressed up in their newly bought or rented suit or dress with the fresh haircut. The pictures show the tattoos, needle marks, dirty clothes, etc. The only thing that a picture doesn’t capture is sound and odor.