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Darren Dake is a certified instructor and criminal investigator with over 30 years experience in the field of law enforcement and death investigations. He holds certification as an instructor for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, the Missouri Sheriff’s Association, and the Law Enforcement Training Institute – (Missouri University Columbia). Darren is founding director and lead instructor for the Death Investigation Training Academy™ .
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What Other Organizers Have Said
Most Requested Speaking Topics
Darren did an excellent job teaching our SUIDI/ Infant death investigation class. Would highly recommend and will use him again!
Kristy Simmons , MS Medical Examiners Office.
“Darren, your efforts and information were an integral part of our conference, and we greatly appreciate your contribution . I am happy to let you know that your presentation at the conference was well received and given high marks. I very much enjoyed working with you and look forward to doing so again in the future. ”
Jen Howe – Conference Coordinator, Colorado Coroner Association
Darren is a wonderful speaker. He provided excellent training on the coroner’s level of thinking. We are looking ahead for future training sessions Darren can provide for us!!
Ginger Meriwether, CMEI President of Mississippi Coroner-Medical Examiner Association
“Darren is a dynamic and charismatic instructor, he holds the classrooms attention, encourages and draws in participation from attendees successfully. I would personally recommend Darren as an instructor/speaker to any organization”
Sgt. Jessie Venable, Retired Franklin County Missouri – Conference Coordinator MDSA
Darren, your class was very informative and enjoyed by all that attended. So very nice to have this type of training available at such an affordable price. I would personally recommend using Darren to anyone in the field of death investigation.
Anthony Conarton, D-ABMDI
Susquehanna County Coroner
Autoerotic fatalities are deaths that occur during sexual activity when an action, chemical, device or prop that is being employed to enhance physical or psychological stimulation causes death. These deaths may be accidental, natural or homicidal and occur in connection with consensual acts, criminal sexual assaults, or autoerotic acts. This training is designed to give the patrol officer, detective and C/ME investigator the basic knowledge of recognizing a death due to autoerotic activity v. suicide.
The course covers the psychology of autoerotic activity, who is most susceptible, what the scene looks like, and interviewing family members. The program is comprised of real information investigators can use to interpret a scene of a suspected autoerotic death. Full of information needed, yet purposefully lacking long explanations of research and controlled studies.
Students will find careful descriptions to help determine what these deaths are — and what they are not. The investigator will be equipped with the necessary skills to properly investigate this type of death.
Autoerotic death investigations are rare, and knowledge comes from two sources; experience and education. Where you may lack experience with actual scenes, knowledge can be gained through education and research. The intention through this training is to give the investigator, regardless of experience or education level, the tools needed to properly interpret these scenes.
Many of these deaths are misinterpreted every year because scene investigators are untrained and look only for signs of homicide or suicide. This combined with the untrue belief that this death is only a “male masturbation” issue, they never taking into consideration the ruling of autoerotic accident.
Investigating infant and child deaths require a unique approach and can be complicated for even the most experience of investigators. These scenes, more than any other type, are highly charged and emotional. If not investigated with a pre-determined set of standards; evidence can be missed, or scenes can be misinterpreted.
This training is designed with the detective or patrol officer investigating death, and coroners or medicolegal death investigators in mind. This course will specifically discuss scene processing, last known re-enactments, witness and family statements, evidence collection and documentation, injury and wound interpretation, and investigative techniques as they relate to child and infant death.
The training will thoroughly cover the numerous aspects of these investigative cases and promote critical thinking and evaluation of these crime scenes and all the unique pieces to help delineate homicides from accidental and natural deaths, even in the most subtle of cases.
Participants are encouraged to bring a challenging case to discuss with the class and the instructors. It is always helpful to have fellow professionals look at your tough cases with a fresh set of eyes. By attending this training investigators will glean from the presentation of this complex subject and expand their knowledge in this area!
This training walks the student through the proper steps of identifying and documenting wounds to the body through a complete external body exam at scene level.
This course is designed to introduce the student to the forensic importance of stabbing and cutting injuries, blunt force trauma, and injuries due to firearms This course will describe what these wounds are and how they are made. It will also explore each type of wound’s forensic importance to an investigation. This course includes photographs and injury types from actual cases and will assist the student in better understanding how these wounds are made and how best to document them in forensic charting and reporting.
As injuries due to firearms are common in most areas of the United States, skill in the interpretation of these injuries is vitally important for the practitioner of death and injury investigation. This course will examine the forensic importance of gunshot injuries and will lead the investigator through proper identification and interpretation of gunshot injuries. Areas covered are; the characteristics of gunshot wounds, distance of fire indicators, wound assessment, and proper documentation.
This training is designed to assist EMS personnel; paramedics and first responders; the techniques, skills, and cautions necessary to conduct lifesaving procedures, but not interrupt criminal evidence. The course focuses on preserving a crime scene, proper approach, observations, dying declaration, witness chatter, and scene documentation.
The first responsibility of all EMS personnel is to preserve life. Once it is evident that option no longer exists, the priority of the patient turns to getting answers as to how and why they died. It is imperative that all EMS personnel take a role in getting those answers. Being among the first on a crime scene the information observed and gathered can be extremely valuable in getting those answers.
This training is not designed to interrupt current protocol but rather to give EMS personnel and insight into how what they do, or don’t do, can affect an investigation. Patient care should not end at death!
What the Student will Gain
- An understanding of a crime scene
- The steps EMS can take in recognizing a crime
- The role EMS plays in solving crime
- When a routine call turns into a crime
- What documentation investigators will need
- How and Why to listen for witness chatter
- Proper knowledge in marking the body where appropriate
- How to handle infant and child deaths
With my 30 plus years working in leadership roles both in Law Enforcement as well as small business development, I have learned a lot about managing people. Working with varied personalities that make up the industry of Law Enforcement and Coroner/M.E Investigators has given me a perspective that very few speakers have.
I have led many teams over the years, both in an office-agency setting as well as on working scenes. Through this I have developed some proven ways to motivate and inspire my team as well as work through the day to day functions of agency management.
I have developed and trained in several management leadership areas but below are a few general topics. Connect with me and let’s work out what fits best for your current needs.
- Conflict Resolution
- Leadership Lessons
- Policy Matters
- Organization and Time Management
- Work – Life Balance
This training is developed with the detective, patrol officer, and C/ME investigator in mind. Taught by skilled instructors working the field of criminal investigations, this course will provide an intermediate level overview of the skills required to properly work a death scene investigation. The training will develop confidence in the investigator and hone valuable skills. After competing this course, the investigator will have the ability to better; understand the legal restriction of search and seizure, document a scene, locate and collect evidence, properly distinguish differing manners of death, better understand wound and injury interpretation, understand the dynamics of a child death, conduct witness interviews, interrogate suspects, and properly complete reports and prepare for courtroom testimony.
Overview of Course
Crime scene management. The course begins here by explaining that if an investigator can work a death scene properly, all other scenes can be worked efficiently. Many agencies may be involved in a death scene and investigators must know the legal jurisdictions of a death scene and how best to work with other agencies. We will explain cause and manner and how these determinations are made. These scenes are highly charged and can be critically scrutinized if not managed correctly. We start the officer’s investigation from the initial call, through arrival procedures, scene security, and assessing the next move.
Legal Considerations are critical in all crime scenes. Not recognizing the legal parameters of search and seizure, the need for a search warrant, and where warrantless searches may be okay; all the work of a scene investigation can become worthless if not allowed in court. Students will learn fourth amendment restrictions and where and how these rules apply specifically to a death scene.
Working the scene may be the biggest obstacle to investigators. This course will walk investigators through scene assessment, working theories, locating evidence, collecting and packaging various forms of evidence, proper scene documentation such as notes and sketches, as well as the investigative process – taking the case from scene, to lab, and to court.
Crime scene photography can be difficult. Such areas as proper lighting, proper use of scale, knowing what to photograph, taking photographs in low light conditions, and use of video documentation are just a few of the areas covered in this course. Examples of good photos v. bad photos will be used to demonstrate common mistakes made by investigators.
Wound identification and documentation is an area that some police investigators may not be directly involved in. However, in some instances they are, and at the very least they need to understand the basics of what they are looking at. The proper use of terminology is critical in reporting so as not to confuse testimony contradicting a pathology report. This portion covers cutting and stabbing injuries, bite marks, terminology and gunshot injury identification and range of fire.
Working a suicide deaths verses a homicide yields different strategies. Officers respond to over 30,000 suicides each year and half that many homicides. However, families regularly dispute the ruling of suicide. Working these cases completely and without pre-determined bias will protect the officer and department from unfair criticism. Further, self-harm accidents such as autoerotic deaths and dangerous behavior deaths, are not suicide and must be ruled as accidents.
Child and infant deaths are highly charged scenes and mistakes can happen quickly. Having pre-defined guidelines for the investigation of these deaths can save valuable time and prevent loss of evidence. A child’s death puts the parents and care givers on the front line. Proper investigation in a timely manner will ensure that care givers are either held responsible or cleared allowing the parents to grieve and reduce the media and community outcry of abuse and police failure.
Interviewing witnesses and suspects is as important as managing the scene. Information gathered here will allow the evidence gathered to support of refute the claims made by the people involved. A very different approach must be used with each type of person, including children. In addition to talking with involved parties information can be gathered from medical and work records, EMS personnel who responded to the scene, and digital communications. Proper death notification procedures will be covered as well.
Reporting writing and courtroom testimony completes the investigative process. Done correctly from the beginning a lot of time and embarrassment can be saved, both for the investigator as well as their department. This course will cover reporting writing skills and pitfalls to avoid when preparing the final report. The student will also learn the best approach in preparing for courtroom testimony, including review case file, pre-trial communication with the prosecuting attorney, and proper courtroom demeanor.
In this course a multifaceted approach will be discussed to establish an investigative framework from which a homicide investigator will be able to conduct an all-encompassing investigation into the murder of a human being. In order to accomplish this, multiple areas of a homicide investigation will be discussed that are foundational to identifying, understanding, and prosecuting persons criminally responsible for the death of another.
From the initial response, understanding and managing the scene, interpreting wound evidence, applying behavioral and forensic examinations at the crime scene, prioritization of investigative measures, interview strategies, and necessary case management.
Additionally, the course will engage the participants in an interactive classroom setting in which actual cases are reviewed and analyzed to augment the lecture and teaching points brought forth.
- Scene and Case Management for lead investigator
- Creating a case that will stand for 50 years
- Most common mistake made at a homicide scene
- Scene Assessment – What looks right, what looks wrong
- Principles and components of a homicide Investigation
- Area Canvassing – What it really is and how to do it
- Working with the Coroner / Medical Examiner Investigator
- How a multi-disciplinary approach is better – No room for rogue detectives
- Crime Scene Reconstruction
- Equivocal Deaths – what they are and how to manage them
- Suicide v. Autoerotic v. Homicide
- Staged Scenes and Alterations
- Cold case considerations
- What blood patterns can tell us in 10 minutes
- Postmortem – Scene level Examinations
- What evidence is on the body at the scene but not at Autopsy
- How evidence links scene -victim-suspect
- Wound assessment at scene level
- Witness Interview and Cognitive Questioning
- Victim and Suspect background development – Key to successful outcome
- Interrogation Considerations and Question Formulation
- Do you have a serial killer?
- Sexual Homicide Investigations
- Common murders – common causes.
Other Important Links
If you would like to look at or download a copy of Darren’s CV -Curriculum Vitae.
You can do so here: DownloadCV
Download your guide here: Ideas for funding training
With training budgets stretched thin across the board these days, the thought of bringing in an instructor to provide your staff with the quality training they deserve, while also having to consider the cost of the instructor’s travel and lodging, can be a daunting task.
This brings up an all too common problem, not only with non-profit agencies, but with agencies dealing with much smaller training budgets than others. Though you want to provide your staff with the same high-quality training with the most experienced instructors available to those with much larger training budgets & funds, how can you afford it on your agency’s budget?
This guide will give you some ideas to use to help find the money needed to host high quality training in your area and not deplete your training budget.
Download your guide here: Ideas for funding training
My goal is to help you make your next training event or conference an amazing success. I promise you a 99.4% hassle free experience working with our Academy and bringing me to your event. You, as the organizer have enough to worry about, your speakers should not add to it.
The obligations on your end are simple.
- You get me there; Train, Plane, or Automobile.
- You give me a Hotel room to sleep in and feed me.
- Allow me an information table with easy access to your group.
- Provide the A/V equipment.
- I will do my very best to cover my fees within your speaker budget.
Let’s connect and talk about what I can do for your organization and the budget limits we have to work within and we can tailor something together to make your training a success.
Darren has published four books in total. Three of which are clear and concise investigation manuals giving the investigator necessary information to investigate death without being full of statistics and fillers. These manuals are great for education and to carry in scene kits for easy reference.
Secondly, Darren co-authored the book CODE. The book addresses the reality of Secondary Traumatic Stress facing all who work in public service in a real, raw, and relevant way, telling stories inspired by true events and authentic cases. Powerful tips at the end of each chapter offer hope, encouragement, and healing methods — real help for the hurting people who give their all.