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2350 Photographic Evidence

APS IH / February 2013

APS takes photographs and collects photographs from other agencies, with the alleged victim’s permission, to clarify and illustrate the facts of a case.

Alleged victims and alleged perpetrators have the right to refuse to be photographed or to have their homes photographed.

APS takes photographs when:

  •   documenting the existence or nonexistence of injuries when an injury is alleged in the intake report or when alleged or discovered during the course of the investigation (see exceptions in 2351 Procedure for Taking Photographs);

  •   living environments constitute, or are alleged to constitute, a health or safety hazard, especially when court action is possible; and

  •   Purchased Client Services funds are used for cleaning, repairing, or modifying the alleged victim’s home or yard (requires before and after photographs).

Alteration of photographic images by DFPS staff is strictly prohibited.

Exception: The APS specialist may insert a photograph into a document and resize the image to fit the space without altering the original image. Use of an outside photographic service is not needed when performing this function.

Permission to Take Photographs

Capacity to Consent

If there is no indication that an alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to protective services, the APS specialist requests the alleged victim’s permission to photograph the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s living environment.

If an alleged victim …

then the APS specialist …

consents to photographs …

takes necessary photographs.

consents to photographs, but another person prevents or interferes …

  •   attempts to persuade the person to allow the photographs;

  •   may consult with the financial exploitation and investigations or risk and self-neglect subject matter expert; and

  •   consults with the supervisor and regional attorney, to determine whether legal action is necessary.

refuses photographs…

  •   explains that photographs are important evidence and that they are often useful in providing protective services;

  •   does not press such arguments to the point of jeopardizing the alleged victim’s cooperation with the investigation;

  •   never seeks a noninterference order against an alleged victim for the purpose taking photographs;

  •   does not take photographs, if the alleged victim continues to refuse; and

  •   does not take photographs of the home environment, if a family member or owner consents and the alleged victim refuses.

Possible Lack of Capacity to Consent

Even if there are indications that an alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to protective services, the APS specialist still requests the alleged victim’s permission to photograph the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s living environment. The APS specialist is not required to obtain permission from the alleged victim’s caretakers, family members, or guardian.

APS specialists need to use their judgment to determine whether a nonverbal alleged victim has given consent using affirmative gestures. A nonresponsive alleged victim (such as an alleged victim who is sleeping or unconscious) cannot be presumed to have given consent.

The APS specialist documents the refusal to be photographed in a contact narrative.

If there are indicators that the alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to protective services, and the alleged victim …

then the APS specialist …

consents to photographs and there is no caretaker, family member, or guardian present …

takes necessary photographs.

refuses photographs and there is no caretaker, family member, or guardian present …

takes photographs only if photographs are critical to the investigation and can be taken without duress.

consents to or refuses photographs, but another person prevents or interferes …

  •   attempts to persuade the person to allow the photographs;

  •   may consult with the financial exploitation and investigations or risk and self-neglect subject matter expert; and

  •   consults with the supervisor and regional attorney, to determine whether legal action is necessary.

Photographing the Alleged Perpetrator

The APS specialist never requests to take photographs of the alleged perpetrator in a semi-nude or nude state.

If such a photograph seems necessary, the APS specialist may refer the case to law enforcement for investigation; however, if law enforcement cannot assist, then the APS specialist may refer the alleged perpetrator to a physician to take the photographs or make a determination based on the available evidence.

See also 4400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services.

2351 Procedure for Taking Photographs

APS IH / April 2016

The APS specialist determines that camera settings are appropriate by ensuring that the digital photograph image size is set between 640 x 480 to 1280 x 960 pixels.

In documenting the existence or nonexistence of injuries, the APS specialist: 

  •  takes all photographs as soon as possible;

  •  takes at least one establishing photograph with the alleged victim’s face and the injury or absence of alleged injury in the same frame; and

  •  takes at least one close-up of every injury or alleged injury.

It is best practice to hold or request that the alleged victim hold a ruler or an object of known size (such as a dollar bill) against the injury as a point of reference to show the size of the injury.

Photographs showing injuries do not exist are required unless:

  •  the alleged victim denies the abuse allegations; and

  •  the alleged victim’s body language, tone, and so on do not indicate the alleged victim may be denying the allegation out of fear or to protect the alleged perpetrator.

See also Appendix XVI: Using the Tablet PC for Obtaining and Storing Written Statements and Diagrams.

2351.1 Sensitive Photography

APS IH / September 2011

When taking photographs of body areas considered private, the APS specialist:

  •   photographs only alleged victim of the same gender as the specialist;

  •  requests assistance from a secondary APS specialist if an alleged victim is of a different gender;

  •   has a witness present;

  •   touches the alleged victim no more than is necessary to take the photograph; and

  •   uses universal precautions for guarding against infections if touching the alleged victim is necessary.

The APS specialist consults with the APS supervisor if a departure from this procedure is necessary. Deviation from this procedure should occur only in rare cases, when photographs are critical and meeting these conditions prevent photographs from being taken at the initial face-to-face or within an appropriate time after the face-to-face contact.

2351.2 Photographing Living Environments

APS IH / September 2011

The APS specialist begins with an establishing photograph of the entryway to the dwelling or room when documenting living environments. The APS specialist then takes a series of photos in a clockwise sequence from the center of the area or from a corner.

See also Appendix VII: APS Specialist Safety.

2352 Documentation for Photographs

APS IH / April 2016

The APS specialist:

  •  documents each photograph on the External Documentation page in the IMPACT system;

  •  uploads digital photographs into IMPACT; and

  •  documents in a contact narrative any refusal to allow photographs.

Printing Digital Photographs

The APS specialist:

  •  ensures the date stamp is correct;

  •  preserves the original digital image as read only and protects it from alteration;

  •  uses a photographic service outside DFPS if alterations are needed, such as enlarging, cropping, or brightening;

  •  orders prints of digital photographs from DFPS online photo processing only as needed (for example, for case staffings or meetings, criminal investigations, or court proceedings); and

  •  labels printed photographs with the corresponding IMPACT case name and case number and a brief description of the photograph.

For information regarding online photo processing, see DFPS Online Photo Processing.

Photographs Obtained From Other Sources

The APS specialist:

  •  documents photographs obtained from outside sources in the External Documentation page in IMPACT; and

  •  files paper photos obtained from outside sources in the external paper file.

See also 5211 Electronic Case File.

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