May 22, 2009 at 10:10
We all know this is the time of the year we typically clean up and organize our homes, garages, yards and gardens to prepare for the busy summer months. It should also be the time for departments and agencies to look at their forensics supplies, equipment and facilities to ensure they are cleaned up and organized for the upcoming year.
While many of the products utilized in the investigation and processing of crime scenes are not perishable and store very well, you still need to routinely evaluate your existing stock-on-hand. Ask yourself the following questions when reviewing your inventory of forensics supplies:
- Do you have sufficient fingerprint powders with the various developing properties ready to handle the expected caseload?
- Are your magnetic and standard powders free of clumps and clinks or should they be sieved or replaced?
- Are your powder applicators in good shape and not contaminated from on-scene processing?
- Do you have separate Zephyr® Fiberglass brushes for the different types of fingerprint powders you utilize?
- Do you have sufficient latent lifting devices (tape, rubber, gel, etc.) to recover latent prints developed on-site or on items of evidence?
- Are your patrol officers properly equipped to collect and process evidence in the field?
This is just a minor listing of items and conditions that should be reviewed; specific check points should be customized for every user and agency as items will vary from department to department. Laboratory technicians, crime scene investigators and patrol officers have varying needs and requirements, but all forensics professionals should periodically conduct this type of detailed review.
An officer recently lamented to me that he was not developing latent prints with the replacement powder he was recently provided by his department. A check of the powder showed that he had been given black magnetic powder to replace his dwindling Bi-chromatic™ fingerprint powder, but was still using a Zephyr®-styled applicator instead of a magnetic applicator. This powder/brush combination is not recommended and could seriously jeopardize the officer’s ability to successfully lift prints from a crime scene and gain an important conviction!
Spring cleaning should encompass all aspects of your forensic applications from crime scene activities to final disposition of the evidence. It should become an annual project to ensure you are ready for the challenges in the upcoming year.