Working in forensic sciences will invariably bring you into potential contact with infectious agents. The foundation for safe performance of duties and proper containment is an effective exposure control plan. This article discusses the basic elements of a comprehensive exposure control plan, what each element should contain, and tips on successful implementation.
Laboratory equipment is one of the drivers of the design of a forensic facility. In this article I will review a few pieces of equipment which have changed over time and how lab design has been adapted to meet those changes. I will review a change in the equipment used to compare and analyze firearms evidence, genetic analyzers used in DNA analysis, and a piece of equipment which tests toxicology samples.
Often an examiner will analyze all the digital media only to determine that the probative data was limited to a browser’s history file, an e-mail, a document, the mobile devices’ logs, or an inappropriate graphic video or picture. Finding the critical probative data faster in a cost effective manner while reducing or eliminating case backlogs is going to require a more efficient methodology.
Recently I was training a group of investigators at a large law enforcement agency on wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection. Over the course of our conversation, I learned there were a couple of people who were not overly enthusiastic about introducing a new collection method to the cases. This hesitancy from some didn’t surprise me, but it did get me thinking about how to address it.
Dirt is full of life, microbial life. Although dirt seems to be an inert, lifeless material, one gram of soil may contain up to eight billion living bacterial cells. Grave soil found next to dead and decomposing human bodies is teeming with many microbial secrets that have yet to be uncovered.
With bath salts being a new product with no exact chemical composition, toxicology companies have struggled to produce a detection technique. As many bath salts are made up of a large drug concoction, with current tests only detecting an individual drug and not a variety of drugs, this also decreases the possibility of detection.
Due to the chemicals used to make the drugs and the wastes generated during the “cooking,” clandestine laboratories present significant safety and health risks to law enforcement, forensic scientists, and the public. When a clandestine drug lab is discovered there is a basic three stage approach to move from seizure to a fully restored site.
You can make your job more manageable by paying attention to the fundamentals. One of the most important things you can do is determine the equipment that is essential to your job. As you gain experience and expertise, the list of equipment will certainly grow and include more specialized items.
Most of us know you should attempt to develop latent prints as soon as possible. When latent prints are deposited on a surface, nearly 99% of the print is composed of water. The water begins to evaporate and the print dries out. For this reason, it is essential to have first responding officers trained in the development of latent prints when no one else is available.
Hazards of UV do not distinguish between work and home, and in addition to sunlight, UV light sources are found in the workplace including labs, mechanical rooms, and shops. Sources include some biosafety cabinets, certain types of hand-held light sources, transilluminators, crosslinkers, and some laboratory instruments such as spectrophotometers.
Clearly, finding and collecting as much evidence as possible is key. But in doing so, it’s all too easy to contaminate the results. How can we avoid contamination?
Determination of Blood Alcohol Content has been a standard analytical method in criminal labs for many years. Recently, however, additional compound identification provided by matching the ethanol mass spectrum to a library spectrum, in addition to RT, has proven to offer an additional level of confirmation. This article describes BAC analysis using a GC-FID in parallel with a mass spectrometer for positive compound identification.
Typically, managers dread having to perform employee assessments and experience high anxiety anticipating them. For the employee, too, who is about to undergo a formal performance assessment, the procedure is a high-anxiety producer. So what typically happens is that two very nervous people get together, try to act calm, and just “get through it.”
When a death investigator first arrives at the crime scene, he or she must confirm the death and conduct a scene walkthrough. He or she should follow certain steps.
The sooner every municipality and jurisdiction takes ownership of its own backlog issue and dedicates the appropriate amount of resources to get kits tested, the sooner they can stop worrying about whether some very smart lawyers are going to find a way hold them responsible.