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SKETCHI~rG CRIME SCENES

I. INTRODUCTION

A. As an aid in clarifying investigative data and


to make the situation easier for everyone to
understand, an officer should develop the
ability to make! good crime scene sketches.

B. Definition of 1'erms

1. Sketch, dia"gra.m, and drawing are terms used


interchange'ably to refer to a handmade
pictorial representation of conditions at
a crime sce'ne .

2. One court d.efined a diagram as follows :

"A diagram is simply an illustrative outline of


a tract of land, or something else capable of linear
projection, which is not necessarily intended to be
perfectly correct and accurate." (SHOOK v. PATE 50
Ala. 1)

Elaborating further, the court stated:

"At best (diagram) is an approximation; and in this


sense i t is indiffe'rent by whom i t is made. A
witness mayas well speak by a diagram and linear
description, when the thing may be so described,
as by words. I t is enough i-f i t serves the purpose
of the witness in the explanation of the lines and
localities he is seeking to exhibit."

NOTE: In this case the court held the diagram to


be admissible even though it had been made by the
prosecuting attorney rather than by the witness in
connection with whose testimony it was introduced.

3. Chart- This term refers to a graphic


illustration of statistical data, not to a
crime scene sketch.

a. It may take several forms such as a


curve, a vertical or horizontal bar
chart, a pie chart, etc.

b. See illustrations beginning on page 34.


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c. A sketch is but one of a number of standard


methods of recording investigative data.

1. Sketches, drawings, charts

2. Notes

3. Photographs

4. Moulage or plaster of Paris casts

5. Fingerprints

6. Recordings

II. LEGAL ASPECTS

A. One leading authority on evidence h~Ls the


following to say relative to pictorial repre-
sentations made for presentation in court.

"It would be folly to deny ourselves on the


witness stand those effective media ~f communication
commonly employed as a substitute for words. If a
simple line plan of a house is more satisfactory
than a mass of words, as a method of communicating
the relative position of the house as observed by
us, then this method of communication is equally
proper to be resorted to in a witness' conversation
to the jury.

"The above cannot be disputed and the only


judicial interpretation is that relative to the
admissibility. All cases agree on these points.

"The use of maps, modelsp diagrams and photo-


graphs as testimony to the objects represented
rests fundamentally on the theory that they are the
pictorial communication of a witness who uses this
method of communication instead of or in addition to
some other method. It follows, then, that the map
or photograph must first, to be admissible, be
made a par't of some qualified person's testimony.
Someone must stand forth as its sponsor. In other
words, it must be verified.

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"There is nothing unGCmmon or exc.eptiollal iD


this principle. It is the same principle as
required of all witnesses. The witness must have
had observa tion of t:he da ta in question 9 properly
recollect these data., and then correctly express
these data. The d1agram~ map or photograph will oot
stand alone. There must be a ~itness who )laS
competent knowledge, and who cao affira or swear
that the mapp diagra.m or photograph represeseots
the facts. 'nlis principle 1s boroe out by all
the cases on the sutlject.

"Above only appl.ies to diagrams, maps, etc. ,


used by the witness. Official maps of state and
county officers :I et.c. " are submitted under a
different rule. Verification or' authentication may
be enough in such {"8.ses. In our case the wi tness
standing sponsor .for the map or drawing mu~;t be
qualified by observation to speak of the matters
represented in the pic.ture. Whether this require-
ment is fulfilled should be left to the determina-
tion of the trial cour't."l

B. Another write.r puts it this way~

"Where it. is impossible to present the objects


themselves into eviden~e, it is peTmissible to put
before the court th~ map or dia,gram and photographs
which will present the appearance and co~dition of
physical things which ma.y be material to the issues.

"The map or diagram may-have been made by the


witness or it may have been made by some other
person. In either case the only essential is that
it be offered in conne~tion with the verbal testimon1
of the witness and then stood before the jury as a
part of that testimony. The function.it serves is
to simply present. a condition or a group of objects,
by the use of pictorial languagepmore clearly to
the jury than could be done by the wo.rds of the
witness.

"The use of diagra,ms, pictures ~ etc.9 in this


explanatory way is a.t,tended with little difficulty
so far as the princ,iples of evidence are concerned.
They are brought foJ:'w3.r'd ei ther by the wi tness or
in connection with his testimony, and) if it
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sufficiently appears to the c.ourt that they would ,
be helpful~ they a:r'e;: ag the cases show;; generally
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1Wigmore on Ev1den~e~ Vo1. 3~ Third Edition9
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Sections 790~793p pp. 173-186. ,
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admitted. The sole principle involved is that of


helpfulness in making the testimony clear. If they
are not of vaiue in this manner and verbal testimony
is sufficiently clear, they may be excluded.

"'I11e first essential is that the map or diagram


offered be properly authenticated. 'I11e value of a
piece of evidence of this character is entirely
dependent upon its being a c.orrect representation or
reproduction of the original, and verbal testimony
must therefore be offered by someone who knows the
circumstances under which it was produced and who
can testify that it is a correct representation of
what it purports to be. Such testimony is usually
given by the person who made the drawing or
diagram. " 1

c. Admissibility

1. Must be made part of some qualified person's:


testimony.

2. Must have competent knowledge.


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a. Must have an observation of the data
in question.

b. Must properly recollect these data

c. Must correctly express these data.

3. In other words, the sketch must be sponsored


or verified.

4. In this connection, note that McKelvey


states:

"...value ...is ..dependent upon its beingi


a correct representation.. of the original, and
verbal testimony must ...be offered that
it is a correct representation of what it
purports to be"

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1McKe1vey on Evidence, Fourth Edltion~ p. 441-444 I


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III. USES OR PURPOSES OF SKETCHES

A. Record the exact location and relationsihip of


pieces of evidence and surroundings.

B. Refresh the memory of the investigator.

c. Provide permanent record of conditions


otherwise not easily recorded.

1. Distances involved in large areas

2. Topography

3. Paths of vehicles in accidents

4. Movement of suspect

5. Skid Marks

Do Assist prosecutor, judge, and jury to understanc


the conditions at the crime scene.

E. Help in questioning suspects and witne~;ses.

F. Plan raids and roadblocks

G. Record details of accident investigations.

H. Help correlate testimony of witnesses.

I. Portray statistics graphically. (RefeJ:'s to


charts--not sketches)

J. Eliminate unnecessary and confusing details.

K. Organize forces for disaster and riot (~ontrol -


also special events.

IV. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR MAKING SKETCHES

A. Sketches Supplement Photographs

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1. Purpose of each is to present a picture -to


portray something.

2. Photograph gives great detail.

3. Sketch eliminates unnecessary detail.

4. Photograph provides permanent record of


items that may be overlooked or forgotten.

5. Photograph does not always show truE~ and


accurate relationships between objects as
to distance, position, etc.

a. Cannot determine distances in a


photograph.

b. Position of camera, tilt, type of lens,


exposure, distance from object, etc.,
affect photographic proportions.

6. Frequently possible to show only a part of a


scene in a photograph. Compare Figs. 1 & 2
with Figs. 3 & 4.
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7. Sketches combine features of both notes and ~
pictures. In character they lie between
word descriptions and photographs.

8. SKETCHES ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR NOTES OR


PHOTOS: they are but a SUPPLEMENT to them.

9. Neither notes, photographs, nor sketches can


completely substitute for any of the others.

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GENERAL VIEW OF NORT~ END OF S~ACK

FIGURE 2

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ll' B. Sketches Provide Reference or Orientation Points


to Clarify Oral Testimony
Such words as " long, " " far, " " sma 11, "
I.
" in back of, " "brown, " etc. , need a point

of reference or comparison.

2. In the sentence, "This is a small automobile:'


the word "automobile" provides the reference
point.

3. The word "small" applied to a dog would


produce an entirely different concept.

4. Descriptions must be understandable to be


useful. Reference points must be provided.

5. If we said a man was carrying a brown suit-


case and did not further qualify our meaning,
there would be many different mental pictures
among the listeners as to what the brown
suitcase looked like.

6. Crime scene sketches often provide the


needed reference points and avoid much
. confusion.

7. They make it possible for the interested


people more nearly to arrive at the true
picture.

c. Protect the Crime Scene

1. Exclude everyone who does not have an


official function to perform, including the
residents, relatives, and even officers.

2. Approach scene carefully and system,a tically .

a. Have a well-organized plan

b. Establish chain of command

c. Make definite assignments.

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3. Preserve relationship of objects.

a. Do not alter the position of any object


until it has been properly recorded.

b. 'nle'position, location, or relationship


to other things is often as important as
the object itself.

c. Positions and relationships may be


recorded through notes, photographs,
or sketches.

D. Obtain Comprehensive View of Scene

1. Get over-all picture in mind.

2. Decide whether to make sketch.

a. Is a sketch needed?

b. Who will use it?

c. For what purpose?

3. Decide what kind of sketch will best serve


the purpose.

E. Types of Sketches

1. Floor plan or "birdVs-eye view." ntis is


the simplest and the most common type.
Fig. 3 illustrates this type of an outdoor
scene; Fig. 4, an indoor scene.

2. Elevation drawing. This type ot sketch I


portrays a vertical plane rather than a i
horizontal plane like a plan such as \
described above. See Fig. 50 ,

3. Exploded view. This 1s somewhat of a


combination of the first two types. It 1s .
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s1milar to a floor plan except that the walls:
have been laid out flat and objects on them ;
have been shown in their relative positions. .
Bullet holest bloodstains, et~. , I:)n walls
can be shown 1n th1s manner. Fig. 6
illustrates this type. !
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FIGURE 3

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FIGUR~ 4

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FI6URE 5

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NOTES

4. Perspective drawings. Drawings of this type


require more artistic skill. Theyare
difficult to draw to scale. Figs. 7, 8, 9,
and 10 illustrate type of perspective
drawings.
5. Most of the time the first type, the floor
plan, will serve our purposes best.

F. Determine Sketch Limits.

1. Decide what to include and what ma~, be


excluded.

2. Choose fixed base line or fixed points for


outdoor sketches.

G. Don't Rely on Memory.

1. Write down all measurements.

2. Fill in all details on rough sketch while


at scene.

Ho Use Separate Paper.

1. Do not make sketch on same paper wjLth notes.

2. Separate sheet will then be available in


case someone else prepares finished drawing.

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ARTIST'SCONCEPTION OF CRIME
h SCENE
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FIGU R~ 7
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FIGURE 8

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J=IGURE 10

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v. MAK ING THE SKETC'H

A. Personnel I
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1. One man can do the job, but he will have


trouble making some of the measurements by
himself. .
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2. A 3-man team, if availablep can handle the


job very efficiently. Two men can take the I
measurements under the direction of the 1
sketcher who will check all measurements I
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and plot them on the rough sketch. J

B. Equipment

I. Supply of pencils -medium or hard lead.

2. Blank paper -graph paper, while not


essential, is very helpful.

a. It simplifies scale drawing

b. It provides guide lines and automatic


line measures.

c. Various kinds available having 4,8, 16,


12, or 10 lines to the inch.

3. Drawing surface -it 1s helpful to have a


clip board.

4. Tape measure -should be at least 50,


preferably loo feet, and made of metal or
metallic cloth.

5. Folding rule -The 6-foot carpenter's rule


is more convenient than the tape for short
measurements.

6. Ruler -Used for drawing straight lines,


drawing to scale» and making very short
measurements.

7. Magnetic compass -or some means of


determining true north, if unknown.

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NOTES

c. Procedure

1. As a first step, sketcher usually makes a


very rough outline while obtaining his over-all
view of the scene. Two such rough sketches, indoor
and outdoor, are illustrated below:

INDOOR

WI""OOW

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WINOO ~ CHAI~ I-ll

GUN -L
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BoDY
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ti"~,.c.I0\ES

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W,'."OOI1'./I C~AI~
SOFA
D 'TABL-E.

FIGURE II

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NOTES

2. Initial rough outline serves as a guide


while making more complete rough sketch
(made at scene as compared to finished
sketch" made back at off1~e).

3. Next step is to begin taking measurements


and laying out sketch.

a. Lay down a base line. Longest


uninterrupted side of room~ for example,
if indoors; curb line, building line,
bank of stream; or even imaginary line
between two fixed points if outdoors.

b. Take other measurements of periphery of


scene and add them to base line, paying
attention to proper angular and
directional relationships.

c. Having thus established outer boundaries,


now proceed to add various objects in
their proper positions.

D. Measurements (WRITE THEM DOWN)

1. Must be accurate -within reason.

2. Don't be overly precise. To say that the


top of the victim's -head was 14~9 & 13 32nds
inches from a telephone pole is overdoing it.

3. Long distances~ such as a quarter mile or a


half mile, may be measured with the
odometer on an automobile.

4. Cri tical measurements 5 such a.s the length of


skid marks, should be checked by two
officers.

E. Scale

1. Area being sketched must be reduced to fit


on paper.

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2. Measurements must be reduced in proportion


so that they bear correct relationship to
each other,otherwise the users of the sketch
will ge.t a distorted view of the scene.
This is what is meant by drawing to scale.

3. Sca~e is the proportion between the length


of the lines in the drawing and that which
they represent.

4. Select scale by fitting longest dimension in


crime scene to convenient area on paper
being used.

Example: Suppose your paper is a standard


8 x 10;" sheet and the longest measurement in
your crime scene is 22;'. Obviously, you
cannot use 1" to I' for your scale as that would
require at least 22;" of paper. Nor can you
use ;" to I' because then you would need lli"
~aper. The next most convenient unit would be
i" equals I' .This will make the longest
dimension of the drawing on your paper 55/8"
(22; x t = 55/8), which would fit nicely on
your paper. You could use 318" to I' and your
drawing would then be almost 8!" long, but 3/8"
is not a convenient unit because it does not
divide evenly into I" making fractions of a foot
very awkward to calculate.

5. TTse largest scale possible.

Example: Assume you -are using 8 x 10!"


paper for outdoor scene in which the longest
dimension is 190'. You can use a scale in which i
!" equals 10' .In this case" your drawing
would be 19 hal!-inches (190 divided by 10) or
9!" long which will fit the paper i1.icely.
This size is easier to see and to work with than
the next sma,ller convenient scale which would be ~
i" equals 10' because then the drawing would be I
only 4 314" long. !

6. Suggested convenient scales.

a. 1" = l' -0"

This scale is probably the easiest one to


use. It makes a sketch in which small'

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NOTES

distances are easy to see. However, it can


be used only" for small a.reas such as very
small rooms. On a paper measuring 8 x loi,
the longest dimension you can plot is about
10' and this will not leave enough room for
the title,.!key, etc. Of course, with a
larger paper such as a 30 x 40 inch board
this scale may be excellent.

b. !" = I' -0"

Convenient for small rooms. Permits


plotting conveniently up to about 20q on
8 x 10! paper.
"" \'?111\ t..ir\\~ ~f.
c. t" .l' -0" '(-'""t'\A.~ ..t.a.le

Good for larger rooms. Allows longest


dimension of about 40' on 8 x 10! paper.

d. 1/8' .l' -0"

Good for apartment" small house, etc.


Allows up to about 80' on 8 x 10!.

1" = 10'
e. -0"

Permits longest dimension of about 100' on


8 x 10!. Good for buildings or small
outdoor areas.

!" = 10' -0 (\/1 ~ 1-01- 0")


f.

Allows longest dimension of about 200'.


Good for large buildingsl outdoor areas.
g. i" = 10' -0 t\" : ~o\- 0")

For large outdoor areas, 8 x 10i inch


paper will accommodate about 400 feet.

7. Use convenient units for scale.

Scales such as I" = 9! -.0" or 1/3" = 7v -0"


are not easy to use because of the difficulty of
calcula ting odd values. For example, if 1" =
9 I -0" , then 35' comes ou t. to 3 8./9 ths inches .
It is much easier for everyone if you use lv =
10 I -011 as 35 I is then exactly 3!" .
8. In selecting scale9 bear in mind that the actual
sketch on the finished drawing should not take up
the entire paper. There should be room left for the
title and the explanatory legend or key.
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F. Locating Points on Sketch

I. All dimensions require Z fix points and


plot sketch should be shown.

2. Rectangular coordinates

a. This is a s'imple system in which a


point is located by making a measurement at right
angles from each of two walls:

FIGURE 13

To locate point A, measure from the north wall and


from the west wall thus setting up an imaginary
rectangle.

b. This system works well for rectangular


or square rooms and inside measurements generally.

c. You must be sure that the measurements


are made at right angles from the walls.

3. Straight line measurement

a. These measurements are used f.or record-


ing location of objects in the crime scene area.

b. Measurements are taken from fixed points


to either side of the object.

FIGURE 13A

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4. Coordinat~s. constructed on transecting


base line.

a. Transect crime scene by laying down tape


at some convenient point so it crosses entire area
as from A to B in: Fig. 14:

1@ 2@ ~
, :
I I
--~ J lb c I
A '8
C a I --1

.I, 3<1>

FIGURE 14

b. Measure distance C and record.

c. Now objects within the crime scene can


be located or plotted by measuring their distance
from this established base line (the tape).

d. Distances from the west wall to points


a, b, and c are automatically read from the tape
which is now your base line.

e. Distances from points 1, 2, and 3 to


your base line are measured at -right angles to the
tape.

f. This system is particularly useful in


lakge, irregularly shaped outdoor areas where no
s ati s factory natural bas e 1 ine exis ts as :in Fig. 1S.

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STREAM
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I

FIGURE 15 36

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g. System could be used in major disasters


such as airplane crashes on farm land, desert, etc.
to show location of property, bodies, parts of
plane, etc.

s. Triangulation

a. In-this system, a measurement is made


frolil each of two fixed objects to the point you
desire to plot or locate so as to form an imaginary
triangle. (See Fig. I)

b. System is simple and accurate.

c. Can be used indoors or outdoors.

d. Especially good for areas lacking


straight lines as in Fig. 16.

ACCESS ROAD
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MAl N ROAD
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FIGURE 16

G. Dimension Lines

1. Should be faint lines with arrowheads.

2. Put each one in on rough sketch.

3. Keep finished sketch as free as possible of


them. This keeps from cluttering up the diagram
with extra anti unnecessary lines; makes understanding
easier. If testimony is needed as to some
measurement, you can refer to your notes or the
rough sketch. Any critical or important measurements
may be shown if desired.

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11 . Techniques of Illustration

1. Do not try to draw objects to look as they


would in a photograph.

2. Use standard symbols in sketching when


possible. (Some standard symbols are shown on the
last two pages of this lecture note guide.)

3. You may use lettered or numbered squarest


rectanglest circles or other figures or even points
for various objects and explain in the key what
theyare.

4. Use heavy lines for building walls, outdoor


boundaries, etc., for clarity and emphasis.

s. Label all doors and windows clearly.

6. Show with curved line which way door swings.

~/ / / / / / / / / / /1 ~/ / / / / / / / / / / / ~

WIN DOW ,
-~\,~- ;, l
~////,./,'//////f ',1 r """'v/////////~~ .

DOUBLE DOOR DOUBLE-HUNG DOOR


WrNDOW
FIGURE 17

7. Show with arrow the direction of "stairway.

UP-

rr FIGURE 18

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NOTES

I. Labelling Objects

1. Use letter to label furniture and fixed


articles.

2. Us.e number to label items of evidence .

3. Identify both in key.

J. Title

1. Title should be set out in a block at some


convenient place on the sketch. If
possible, put it at the lower right.

2. Following items should appear in the title:

a. Brief descriptive statement -John Doe's


Apartment.

b. Address or location

c. Type of case

do Date sketch made

e. By whom sketch was made


(Figures 19, 20, & 21 illustrate
steps in making finished sketch)

K. Miscellaneous

1. Show direction of north with an arrow. By


convention, north is usually shown at the
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top of the paper, if possible.
.
2. Show the scale. (Frequently included in the
title block) I
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3. Try to approximately center drawing on paper. I
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4. Enlarged sections may be made as separate


drawings in order to bring out greater
detail.
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5. Unnecessary height or length may b~ cut off
with jagged lines.

6. Check finished drawing for clarity, accuracy,


scale, title, key.

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FIGURE 21

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NOTES

L. Statistical Charts

1. This is actually a different subject, but we


are including it here briefly inasmuch as it
is .a drawing technique.

2. Figures 22~ 23, 24, and 25 illustrate various


types of charts you may find useful in
connection with your annual report, yearbook,
etc.

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FIGU RE 22

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FIGURE 24
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~IGURE 25
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FEDERAL BUREAU OF Il\IVESTIGATIO'"

Roads Street Light *


Foot Path Pole (Telephone or Power) -0-

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Bridge Telephone or Power Line
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Culvert ~ ~ ~
~ Fence

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Railroad 1IIIIIIIIIIIIit
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Car C> Streams ===::=

Path of Car =). Tree 6


Skid Marks Hedg"e ~

Path of Pedestrian -~---~-~~ ).


Pond d
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x Marsh ~
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Traffic Signal Cu Itivated Field :§1/ 1111;;


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Traffic Sign -&- North Arrow t

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Man *
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House

Church D
School D

Wi ndow --;

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Door

Furniture [=:J

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