Recently friends and colleagues ‘across the pond’ – Phil and Yin Johnson of JJ Associates International (www.jjassociatesinternational.com) – shared a video on social media, entitled “Every contact leaves a trace” by John Sutherland at TEDxLondon (https://youtu.be/ibl3M4dTF2U). Mr. Sutherland is a Metro London Police officer and shares experiences we have practiced during the nearly 30-year course of our agency – truly, every contact does leave a trace and we will look for them. Most people think of forensic trace evidence; however, this was a concept of our long before we were involved in forensics.
What is ‘Every Contact Leaves a Trace’? This is a theory first developed by Edmund Locard – the first c criminalist and founder of the first crime lab in Lyon, France. Locard theorized that all persons leave something at the scene, and take something from the scene. This transfer of evidence connects the two. This is the foundation of our books, articles and presentations all over the country on legal and forensic investigation. This concept applies to every aspect of life – personal and professional. In writing, we share that just writing and reading the text is an example of the contact and leaving a trace. The same in our lectures. When we share information with an audience – such as this commentary or our newsletters – information is shared back – just like forensic trace evidence. Connections are made. From client meetings and informal lunches and get togethers, to family time. We all share and learn. Mr. Sutherland discusses this same concept – adapting Locard’s theory to all investigations and personal life experiences.
In our expert consultations of personal injury, negligence and death in civil, criminal and probate litigation we look for the connections of scenes to victims to perpetrators to instruments of injury, to injuries and full circle. Connections are made through direct and circumstantial evidence – as small as trace evidence and as large as vehicles and buildings.
In our legal investigations of the same nature, we are connecting witnesses through their statements of what they saw, heard, felt, tasted and smelled – or didn’t. Multiple interactions with other persons, some events possible caught on video or audio – are all demonstrations of Locard’s theory. The elements of a crime or civil negligence are supported or answered, strengthened and mitigated through this process.
Locard’s theory is simple – every contact does leave a trace. As investigators, it is our responsibility to find those elements and make those connections for our clients. The application reaches across our lives as professionals, students, teachers, parents and mentors. From observations to investigations, this is how we better both our investigations and ourselves.
To learn more about the application of Locard’s theory in professional investigations, find our articles at www.deathcasereview.com/afi-llc-articles.html