***** Practical Methods for Legal Investigations: Concepts and Protocols in Civil and Criminal Cases. By Dean A. Beers. CRC Press, www.crcpress.com; 382 pages; $89.95.
For many professional investigators, a career in the private sector is often preceded by one in the public sector. Some of America’s most influential professional investigators from history were first lawmen—consider William J. Burns, Allen Pinkerton, and John E. Reid, to name a few.
Author Dean Beers was never a street cop, but as a county deputy coroner he learned his way around a crime scene and it shows. Beers has a knack for casually (but professionally) walking the reader through one investigative challenge after another. He is insightful and fastidious and, most refreshingly, process driven.
He begins by describing the skills required to be a professional legal investigator and what the job entails. He then discusses investigative goals, objectives, and potential outcomes. Far too few books on the topic of investigations ever discuss these important elements, even as minor considerations.
The remainder of the book deals with his five- stage investigative protocol: prepare, inquire, analyze, document, and report. I found it a peculiar practice to suggest that investigators first handle and analyze crime scene evidence and then catalogue and document it. The work also lacks sufficient case studies. Most readers benefit from case studies or short vignettes to help them understand a method, principle, or technique.
Regardless, the reader will not be disappointed in this book. This is a powerful work, well researched and professionally written. Beers is a sophisticated, no-nonsense investigator. His writing style produces a readable text that is sufficiently technical and complex so as to not bore or dissatisfy a seasoned legal investigator.
Beers has produced a valuable tool that most experts in this fascinating field will want to add to their library.
Reviewer: Eugene F. Ferraro, CPP, is a member of ASIS International and currently sits on the ASIS Standards and Guidelines Commission.