Thursday, March 29, 2012
Citizen Police Academy Part 2
Last night we were introduced to our CSI officer K. She is one of the few "civilians" working with the police department in a official capacity. She is a recent addition to the police department as they found more and more officers being tied up at crime scenes to collect evidence. So her role is to enable those officers to go back into the street while she collects the evidence.
Unlike the TV series her job involves months of work instead of hours. She does not talk to witnesses and she does not carry a weapon. Collecting and reporting is basically what she is mainly concerned with. The class was introduced to several methods of collecting. First was the traditional dust method which is extremely messy and got everywhere on the table. The second is the magnetic dust which I found to be more manageable and less wasteful. She also demonstrated a two part epoxy that will pull fingerprints off of uneven surfaces. The last is the superglue method which actually does work if you put the item in a container and then put a few drops of superglue in the container and close it.
The last half of the class was interpreting a crime scene. The CSI arranged a spare room to make it look like a crime had happen. We were briefed that 3-4 shots where fired and two men were seen leaving the scene. She described that this information is typical in her job and its up to her to put the pieces together. So we found 2 9mm shells and 1 .40 shell. Powder was spread over a desk and a chair was overturned. Later we found 3 bullet holes and another shell under a chair. It was concluded that one suspect was shot, and had left via the backdoor. The other suspects had left after being shot at.
The thing that had left an impression is the lousy return time for fingerprint matches and DNA. She was saying that only one place handles all these. It takes up to 3-5 months to verify fingerprints, 5-8 months for DNA and 5 months for ballistic checks. You would think that with all our advancements we would have a better reporting process.