Detective Jeff Bonham has been with the City of Cape Girardeau Police Department for 14 years. He began in the Patrol Division and then taught D.A.R.E. classes in area schools. After going back to the Patrol Division, Bonham now oversees the Scientific Investigation Unit. The unit is responsible for maintaining all physical evidence for cases, maintaining all photographs taken by the Police Department, processing major crime scenes and submitting evidence to the Missouri State Crime Lab.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?
A: My favorite part about my job right now is I get to do a multitude of different things with crime scene work. I’m in charge of all the evidence of the Major Case Squad, so I get to travel to different areas and locations and work different crime scenes. I get to see a lot of different things. This is a different part of law enforcement that I had never seen before. I’m now understanding the importance of evidence and evidence collection and preservation.
Q: What is the transition like of going from the patrol division to handling evidence?
A: I had to go through specialized training. I went to the Kansas City Police Department’s crime scene school that covers everything from a basic crime scene to photography. By the time you leave Kansas City crime school you’re ready to work a murder investigation.
Q: What process do you follow once you get to a crime scene?
A: When you get to a crime scene the big thing is document, document, document. You want to photograph everything. You want to document everything. You’ve got to be really observant of what things to collect, what things not to collect. Then, once they’re collected, what do you want to do with those things? Do you want to send them off for fingerprints or DNA? Or, do you even want to send them to the lab? We’ve got a really close working relationship with our Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab. Once we collect all the evidence, we’ll go sit down with the prosecutors and a lot of people from the crime lab and decide what’s best to do with the evidence we have.
Q: Do you combine scientific evidence with other sciences like psychology to try and figure out possible motives of suspects?
A: Looking at a crime scene, there’s a lot that you can tell just from the evidence that you have, where the evidence is at, where the victim may be lying – there’s a multitude of different things that you can look at in a crime scene and get a good picture [such as] if they were intimate or if they knew each other. You can kind of help paint a picture for the investigating detectives of possibly what type of person that may have possibly did this crime, but it’s not with a 100 percent certainty.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory about your time at the Police Department?
A: I think the biggest thing that I enjoy about my job is truly helping people, whether it’s in the capacity as a detective solving a big crime and helping the victims and their families out or if you’re working patrol helping people out and defusing situations. [There has been] a lot of good days in my career of being a police officer.
Q: Is there anything else of significance that you would like to add about your time working for the Police Department?
A: I think working at Cape PD is a good opportunity for me because we’re not a big city department, but we’re not a small department. We’re able to maneuver through different jobs under different capacities, which makes us more well-rounded police officers.