The “CSI Effect” has profoundly affected the way we perform our jobs. Juries everywhere expect a higher level of professionalism. We have to step up to the plate and perform to the best of our abilities.
Even as we continue to use DNA testing and other sophisticated technologies, however, we also need to take advantage of some of the low-tech products out there that can enhance the quality of our work. Here are three simple products that can increase your professionalism and are available to you at little or no cost.
The first two products are types of evidence markers. You can photograph evedince by having someone point to the item with their finger, but it would certainly be more professional to use an arrow or pointer. Also, if you use arrows, you can place several—either numbered or plain—to indicate each bullet hole or other item of interest. You can download a free set of arrows by going to my web page and following the instructions: http://www.csigizmos.com/products/evidencemarkers/arrows.html. The arrows are already formatted to print on Avery address labels; if you use removable labels, you can reuse the arrows.
Another type of evidence marker that you need for your crime scenes is photo evidence numbers to indicate the location of each piece of evidence. These are typically large, plastic markers that must be properly decontaminated if there is blood at the scene, and then they must be stored between cases. Because of the large, rigid “A” shape, they are often unsuitable for use in a confined area or an area with several small items of evidence that need to be photographed. Often, a better solution is to create your own small, medium, and large disposable “A” frame markers. Then, when they become contaminated, you simply dispose of them. If you look under “Evidence Markers” on my website, you’ll find instructions and templates that will allow you to create disposable “A” frame markers with and without a scale: http://www.csigizmos.com/products/evidencemarkers.html. All you need to supply is your computer and heavy paper or card stock.
The final tool is a magnetic ruler which you can place on the surface of a vehicle to take photos of bullet holes, prints, etc. To make the magnetic rulers, first purchase an adhesive surface magnetic sheet of 5" x 8" (about $1.99 at most discount or craft centers). Next, get a set of four rulers: one white 6" rule, one black 6" rule, one gray 6" rule, and one ABFO #2 scale. Peel off the adhesive cover from the magnetic sheet and place your rulers and scale on the adhesive side. Rub them down to make a good bond. Cut the rulers and scale out with either a pair of scissors or an Exacto knife. You now have a set of magnetic rulers. Remember that some vehicles are not made of metal, so these rulers will not work on them. You will need to use an adhesive ruler instead.