Had a fantastic citizen police academy class last night, the one I’d been waiting for – Crime Scene Processing and Evidence Gathering.
We all laughed when we walked in the room because there on the floor was a tape outline of a “body”. Ha! Then along two walls were all of these cases full of all of their equipment. Holy crap they have a lot of gear! It was like CSI come to life. So cool.
In just one case alone there was: chalk, gloves, compass, drug kits, fingerprint dust and brushes, feather duster, magnifying glass, angle meter (for bullet trajectory), scissors, evidence bags, tape, UV flashlight, screwdriver, zip ties, casting putty (for tool marks) and a super glue fuming wand. There were other things too but I couldn’t write fast enough!
Four things that an evidence tech always has in their own pockets – tape measure, pocket knife, a black Sharpie and an SD card for a camera.
Evidence is: money, drugs, blood and body fluids, spent cartridge casings, weapons, fingerprints, DNA, trace evidence (fibers, etc) and footwear impressions (the most overlooked evidence)
We learned that cast off blood spatter only happens after the second time a person is struck. We also learned that the yellow police tape you see is simply to keep people away. The red tape is what marks off the primary scene closer in. Evidence techs also document use of force – taking photos of a suspects taser wounds or if they have any cuts on them from a struggle, etc. Evidence collected from cases such as homicide, sexual assault, arson and forgery are kept forever. Most other types of cases the evidence is kept for 25 years.
After the presentation we got down to the good stuff – hands on fingerprint collecting! We each had our own collection kit consisting of a pair of gloves, a brush, powder, collection cards and the sticky clear plastic lifts. We had a glass jar that we were to put our own fingerprints on then dust with powder and try and get a useable lift. Holy crap that was HARD! Either the print was smudged or you used too much powder or too little powder. Then trying to lay the sticky film over it without smudging it and using a certain pressure to both push down and then peel it off…this is an art form people. This is most certainly not CSI where they get a perfect lift in a matter of seconds. Or take a picture of the print with their phone!
Needless to say, we were all struggling mightily with this. After about four tries I finally had the most perfect print. You could see everything. I was so happy. And then I tried to lift it off. And only half of it came off. [sigh] Just as I pulled it off and stuck it down on the collection card the one tech stopped next to me to see how I was doing. I lamented I’d only gotten half and held it up to show him. OMG, I kid you not he went ape shit over it! He called the other tech over and she was floored, too. They were both like, “This is the best print we’ve ever seen someone lift in class. This would absolutely go straight to the lab for processing. Fabulous job!” They were seriously gushing over it, and me, and I’m like, it’s really that good? LOL! See for yourself:
Hard to believe but next week is my last class and then graduation. 😦 Seven weeks have flown by! I’m hoping there’s opportunities for us after we graduate to do some volunteer work for the police department because I’d love to continue on in some way.