Ever wondered how police investigate weapons crimes? Each California law enforcement agency has its own policies, complete with procedures for serving warrants, securing weapons including guns and prosecuting those who break the law.

There’s a lot that goes into investigating crimes, including weapons crimes. From securing the crime scene to interviewing witnesses to arresting and ultimately prosecuting those who break the law, police investigate weapons crimes in California in a cautious and methodical manner.Weapons crimes include those crimes that include the use of guns and fortunately, guns are much easier to trace these days, courtesy of technological advances.

It doesn’t take much to uncover the use of a gun in a crime if that gun was fired. There is always evidence, usually from the shell casings of pistols or long arm weapons. Of course, where the shots ultimately landed is a tell-tale clue as well.

A complete investigation of a crime scene can ensure a complete presentation to the courts if it’s determined a crime has been committed. Looking at all of the factors that precluded the event, along with all of the clues left at the scene, has helped investigators solve crimes through the ages.Discerning the weapon is an important part of that effort.

The use of a gun as the weapon leaves other clues, such as spatter patterns. It can sometimes tell investigators the height of the shooter, whether the shooter is left or right handed and if he was moving as he fired the gun. A trained and seasoned California law investigator will be able to prove this.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, a gun isn’t the only weapon used in the commission of a crime. In California and in crimes that were committed using handguns in 2016, the vast majority used a 9 .mm Luger. Still, the use of a firearm has dropped by 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the most current year for federal statistics. This means other weapons are being used, including knives.

Regardless of the weapon used, there are important things police do to not compromise their weapons investigations.

Trace evidence can’t usually be seen with the naked eye; that means crime scene investigators have to find a way to collect evidence they’re not even sure exists. This includes carefully securing the possible weapon in such a way that it doesn’t taint the gun or knife or other weapon. If their fingerprints are found, anything they find as a result of their efforts won’t be admissible. They have tainted that evidence and their own fingerprints is evidence of that.

There have been crimes committed where a glass bottle was used as the weapon. Had the investigators not treaded lightly in their initial walk through, the glass embedded in a rug that the perpetrator missed as he tried to clean up the crime scene would have been missed and the crime never solved. By carefully using a vacuum cleaner with proper collection bags, latex gloves and booties over their shoes, police were able to convict three burglars after they broke into several houses in one neighborhood over the course of a week. The glass bottle was used as a weapon on a homeowner’s guest who surprised the criminals.

It’s this heavy respect to a cautious investigation, a commitment to the truth and the realization that an investigator can become his own worst enemy that drives police as they investigate weapons crimes in California.