7-1 Preliminary & Follow-Up Investigations 

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 9/9/2013

Current Revision Approved: 7/19/2016



It is the department’s policy to set forth basic responsibilities for officers and detectives involved in conducting preliminary and follow-up investigations. The purpose of this directive is to establish minimum guidelines for officers and detectives to conduct well-organized preliminary and follow-up investigations of offenses that occur on VCU/VCUHS property.


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.


Incident Reporting and Investigation

  1. Lawful authority exists for VCU Police Department to investigate all offenses that occur within its jurisdiction.
  2. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the VCU Police Department and the Richmond Police Department, death investigations, sexual assaults and other serious crimes that occur upon VCU or VCUHS property shall be reported and investigated, as outlined below.
    1. Death investigations occurring on VCU property that are not suspicious in nature will be handled and investigated by the VCUPD, as the lead agency. Upon the occurrence of these incidents, VCU Police Department will contact and advise the Richmond Police Department of the investigation.
    2. All suspicious deaths, suspected suicides, homicides, shootings, and manslaughter cases occurring on VCU property or VCUHS property will be investigated by the Richmond Police Department, with the assistance of the VCU Police Department as needed.
    3. Sexual assaults, individual robbery, and aggravated assaults that occur on VCU property or in the defined "core campus geography" that involve students, faculty or staff will be investigated by the VCU Police Department. The Richmond Police Department will assist with forensic services and crime scene evidence collection if necessary. The VCU Police Department will notify the Richmond Police Department of these offenses at the time of occurrence.
    4. In response to reports of sexual assault, the VCU Police Department or the Richmond Police Department will immediately determine which agency will investigate the matter. This is intended to limit and reduce the number of times a victim is interviewed.
      1. NOTE: For additional information regarding sexual assault investigation procedures, see Written Directive 8-13 Sexual Assault.
    5. The VCU Police Department will contact and request formal assistance from the Richmond Police Department for any investigation/situation that overwhelms the VCU Police Department’s resources.
    6. The VCU Police Department will assist the Richmond Police Department, if necessary, with any investigations that have any connection or affiliation to VCU.
    7. The VCU Police Department and the Richmond Police Department will assist each other with lawenforcement assistance on a case-by-case basis.


Preliminary Investigations

  1. Officers will generally conduct the majority of preliminary investigations, as they commonly have the first contact with citizens requesting police services.
  2. Detectives will also be assigned to conduct preliminary investigations in special situations when it is advantageous to have a detective respond initially.
  3. Officers and detectives conducting preliminary investigations shall be responsible for the following:
    1. Respond to all assigned calls for service as promptly and safely as possible and note all conditions, events and remarks.
    2. Locate and identify victims, witnesses and possible suspects.
      1. Ensure the safety of all parties; rendering first aid/medical attention for anyone who may need it.
      2. For cases which would not be considered major or special in nature, officers shall interview victims, witnesses and suspects.
      3. For cases that would be considered major or special in nature, detectives shall be called in to interview involved parties and officers will assist as necessary.
      4. Nothing prohibits an officer from allowing suspects to make voluntary statements.
  4. Secure the crime scene, protect and maintain all evidence, and arrange for the collection of such evidence.
  5. Immediately notify their first line (immediate) supervisor who will, in turn, notify the commander and on-call captain, assistant chief, and/or chief, if needed, as outlined in Written Directive 7-11 Routine and Emergency Notifications.
  6. Arrest offenders or take other appropriate action as circumstances dictate.
  7. Conduct thorough, accurate and efficient preliminary investigations on all legitimate calls for police service, which shall result in a full and accurate incident-based report.


Follow-up Investigations

  1. Officers are expected to conduct follow-up investigations for the following instances:
    1. When there is a reasonable chance of immediately identifying and apprehending a suspect,
    2. When there is a need for obtaining additional information for the preliminary investigation report,
    3. When there are other compelling circumstances, and/or
    4. When assigned by a supervisor.
  2. Officers are expected to follow-up on preliminary investigations to the extent that available resources permit and shall consult their immediate supervisor prior to conducting lengthy follow-up investigations.
  3. Degree of seriousness and case solvability factors will be considered in transferring and assigning a case to a detective for follow-up and/or contacting the Richmond Police Department to respond. When an investigation falls into any of the following categories, a detective shall be contacted:
    1. Burglary
    2. Robbery
    3. Arson
    4. Sex crimes involving juvenile suspects or victims
    5. Rape
    6. Aggravated assault
    7. Death investigations
  4. The Investigations supervisor shall determine the criteria that will be used in determining whether a case needs further investigation and what available resources will be utilized in the investigative effort.
  5. Investigations personnel fall outside of the Patrol Operations chain of command. However, collaboration between investigative and patrol personnel can enhance the likelihood of successfully resolving the incident, particularly in the early stages of an investigation. Therefore, Investigations personnel shall have situational authority over patrol personnel at crime scenes and other critical times when patrol personnel are needed to assist investigators in the field.
  6. To ensure thorough and consistent follow-up investigations, officers shall have the ability to perform basic investigative tasks. However, detectives shall perform more complex investigative tasks, as necessary for each individual investigation including, but not limited to:
    1. Review and analyze all preliminary reports forwarded for follow-up investigation,
    2. Conduct additional interviews and/or interrogations and make contact with victims, witnesses, neighbors, informants, officers, etc.,
    3. Review pertinent departmental records,
    4. Analyze electronic access logs and electronic media,
    5. Review social media sites
    6. Conduct searches
    7. Collect evidence and review lab examination results,
    8. Arrange for the dissemination of appropriate information to other department components and associated agencies,
    9. Plan, organize and conduct stakeouts and/or surveillance,
    10. Review criminal and campus conduct histories of suspects,
    11. Identify and apprehend suspects through the use of a photo array and other identifying techniques when applicable,
    12. Explain all rights to victims and witnesses in accordance to the Virginia Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act, providing them with information and victim/witness services when applicable,
    13. Prepare case(s) for prosecution and assist in prosecution efforts, and
    14. Assist in administrative referral to Judicial Affairs, when applicable.


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

9/9/2013 - 7-1 Preliminary and Follow-Up Investigations