Forensic Magazine Readers’ Choice Award Forensic Magazine Readers’ Choice Award Winners Revealed

Forensic Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the Best Forensic Products of the Year celebrate excellence in product design and performance for tools, equipment, and materials used in all areas of forensic investigation and analysis. A panel of Forensic subscribers selected the products that they found to be most effective and trusted in their work. Three winners were selected in the categories of Crime Scene Tools and Products and Forensic Lab Equipment. The categories for Digital Forensic Tools and Products, Training and Services, and Other Forensic Products and Equipment had one winner each.

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all those who participated in the selection process, making our inaugural Readers’ Choice Awards a resounding success!


Crime Scene Tools and Products

Cap-Shure® Cotton Tipped ApplicatorCap-Shure® Cotton Tipped Applicator
Puritan’s Cap-Shure® cotton tipped applicators are designed for convenient and reliable specimen, DNA, or evidence collection. The absorbent cotton tip is produced from high quality USP grade cotton, which is carded and coiled onsite to maintain consistency. The swab tip is bonded securely to a wood or plastic handle. A contaminant-free aerated cap protects the cotton tip from cross-contamination, ensuring the integrity of the specimen. To use, open the cap and slide down swab handle until swab tip is exposed. Proceed to swab the designated surface area, then slide the cap back over the swab and close. This product is ideal for collecting minute samples at crime scenes or as a buccal swab anytime PCR will be used. Made in the USA.

AccuTrans has become an indispensable crime scene tool used throughout the world to lift fingerprints from difficult surfaces. AccuTrans is a vinylpolysiloxane derivative specially formulated for forensic applications that is tear resistant and has tremendous dimensional stability. Once prints are developed by magnetic powders or by fumed applications, this flowable material is easily applied by extruder gun. Disposable mixing tips blend the material perfectly every time with no hand mixing required. It comes in clear transparent which eliminates reverse prints, allowing the 1:1 lifts to be entered into AFIS immediately. The material also comes in white, brown, and black for lifting tool marks and making firearm and casting impressions. AccuTrans sets in 4 minutes at 68°F. For cold weather climates AccuTrans has developed its latest formulation: the brown-colored “ICE” material. At -14°F to +10°F, AccuTrans ICE sets in 8 minutes or less, compared to the standard formula which takes 30 minutes or more. The FBI, State Bureaus, and many local police departments were the original field evaluators for AccuTrans . The product has been used to lift fingerprints and blood prints (dried) off of rough, curved, and pitted surfaces. Our motto to law enforcement professionals is “If you can develop the print, we can lift it”. AccuTrans is being used in countries around the globe. Every year since 2006, classes have been held at the IAI international conference. The classes are always packed.

Crime Scene Investigation GuideCrime Scene Investigation Guide
Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement was developed by crime scene investigation experts as a comprehensive, step-by-step guide leading law enforcement through the crucial, first phase of the justice process. The guide is free for download as a PDF or for your favorite e-reader. Agencies are encouraged to use this reference to enhance existing training and promote quality.

Each element is broken down by principle, policy, and procedure, showcasing each step of the evidence collection process. The revised and expanded edition has 180-pages detailing the following steps of crime scene investigation:

  • Arriving at the Scene: Initial Response/Prioritization of Efforts
  • Preliminary Documentation and Evaluation of the Scene
  • Processing the Scene
  • Completing and Recording the Crime Scene Investigation
  • Crime Scene Equipment

Since its release in September 2013, the guide has been downloaded globally more than 22,000 times and is used in agencies and training programs.

NFSTC developed this resource through a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Justice, and National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Forensic Lab Equipment

CSIpix ComparatorCSIpix Comparator
The CSIpix® Comparator software lets fingerprint examiners quickly compare two prints side-by-side at the same scale on a computer monitor. This is an ergonomic improvement over a loupe/magnifier. Comparator is custom designed for forensic imaging with functions like autoscale and synchronized zooming plus comprehensive annotation tools and standard enhancement features. It can significantly speed up the processing, calibration, comparison, and annotation of fingerprints and other forensic images. Customers have dramatically reduced court chart preparation time. One customer installed it, learned to use it, and prepared a court exhibit in an hour. Comparator also helps fingerprint examiners in different agencies and different regions to collaborate on comparisons. If examiners want a second opinion, they send their Comparator workspace file to a colleague. The colleague uses Comparator to do an independent comparison and sends the workspace back again.

Comparator is in widespread use by hundreds of agencies in 23 countries. Customers include national police, sheriffs’ offices, state police, major city PDs, police colleges, universities, and even high schools. It’s easy to use because it was designed based on feedback from fingerprint examiners. Many users have seen their suggestions implemented in Comparator. It’s available as a free trial so users can try it before buying. Tutorial videos on YouTube cover just about every aspect of Comparator to help with the learning process. Examiners don’t need to take a course to learn to use it, and they don’t need to be a computer whiz—they appreciate that.

Full Spectrum Imaging System (FSIS) Lab WorkstationFull Spectrum Imaging System (FSIS) Lab Workstation
The FSIS is a revolutionary camera system that was developed with the assistance of federal investigators. The task was taken on by Arrowhead Forensics to greatly improve the first generation Reflective Ultra-Violet Imaging System (RUVIS), a system that is limited to viewing one wavelength (254nm). The FSIS camera can capture an image in the entire light spectrum from deep short wave UV (254nm) through real Infrared (1100nm). The FSIS meets and exceeds the AFIS pixel per inch (PPI) requirement for latent print submission of 1,000 PPI by capturing an image up to 2,500 PPI. The first generation RUVIS systems require a separate camera to mount onto the RUVIS viewer and can capture a 1,000 PPI image in a 1’’ X 1’’ square. Focusing the camera when using two separate, moving parts is timely and challenging. Our FSIS system can capture a 1,000 PPI image in a 4’’ x 4’’ square (roughly the size of a palm), quadrupling the resolution size of the original RUVIS. We’ve combined the viewing mechanism, camera, software, and light sources into a streamlined, live view system with hands free photography. No longer are latent print examiners and photographers limited to one wavelength. Now, multiple types of evidence can be viewed and captured at the highest resolution available in forensics, including untreated fingerprints, fumed fingerprints, dye-stained prints, biological specimens, blood, trace, GSR, altered documents, and more.

Quantifiler TrioQuantifiler Trio
Quantifiler® Trio is the latest forensic DNA quantification kit from Applied Biosystems. The kit enables forensic casework laboratories to simultaneously obtain a quantitative and qualitative assessment of total human DNA in a single, highly sensitive real-time PCR reaction. This guides selection of the optimal short tandem repeat (STR) analysis chemistry and streamlines the workflow while increasing downstream analysis success rates.

Built with the total workflow in mind, Quantifiler Trio was developed in conjunction with downstream next generation STR kits and software for faster performance, higher inhibitor resistance, and easier data analysis across the entire forensic laboratory workflow.

Quantifiler Trio gives reliable and consistent quantification of forensic DNA values at sub-picogram concentration levels utilizing multi-copy targets and enabling higher confidence and more informative sample screening data points.

For samples with mixtures of male DNA in excess amounts of female DNA and/or highly degraded DNA, Quantifiler Trio enables tighter correlation of Male-to-Female DNA ratios and a Degradation Index that gives an assessment of sample quality prior to downstream STR analysis. This promotes better decision making in the selection between traditional autosomal-STR, Y-STR, Mini-STR, or Next-Generation-Sequencing kits and workflows saving valuable time and maximizing first past success.


Digital Forensic Tools and Products

The OmnivoreThe Omnivore
Ocean Systems’ Omnivore is designed specifically for the purpose of forensic video acquisition; Omnivore is a password protected 32GB USB drive that contains specialized video capture software that enables all levels of users to easily capture an uncompressed copy of video evidence that is displayed on Windows based computers.  

Once captured, the uncompressed copy of the video can be instantly viewed using the Omnivore Viewer, which is freely distributable and because it is an executable file, requires no software installation to operate. This viewer also allows users to export to common uncompressed video and image formats for future clarification and analysis and/or exported as compressed formats for distribution to courts. 

Omnivore Active Audio Sync, new in v2.0, is a first of its kind technology designed specifically to help investigators collect and process low frame rate video with associated audio, enabling your video and audio to remain in sync and play back at the proper speed—even with variable frame rate videos. The Omnivore capture software operates directly from the Omnivore Drive so it’s easy to move from one system to another, whether in the office or in the field and there are no additional licenses, installation, or unlock codes required.


Training and Services

NFSTC Forensic Science Online Training CoursesNFSTC Forensic Science Online Training Courses
NFSTC brings high quality training to professionals on the front lines of public safety, from the scene to the lab. These courses have been used across the country and internationally by hundreds of industry professionals and agencies to provide solid, affordable training. Developed by subject matter experts, NFSTC provides quality online training in the following subjects:

  • Digital Crime Scene Photography covers the critical knowledge and skills needed to capture fair and accurate photographic documentation of any scene. (North Dakota POST Approved)
  • Introduction to Forensic Biology is one of the first steps to understanding what really happens inside a forensic laboratory. This course outlines both administrative and scientific concepts associated with safe laboratory practices.
  • Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation was developed for new crime scene investigators and law enforcement first responders. The training offers a step-by-step introduction to scene processing and evidence collection; an introduction to crime scene photography is also included. (Minnesota and Tennessee POST Approved)
  • Intermediate Crime Scene Investigation goes beyond basic skills to cover situations investigators don’t see every day. New techniques include casting footwear under water, lifting fingerprints from skin, bloodstain documentation, and more. The course even includes do-it-yourself experiment ideas to help students or agency teams practice new skills. (Minnesota POST Approved)

NFSTC’s courses are proven to increase knowledge. Recent scores indicate an average of 26 points gained between the pre- and post-testing for all courses. Certificates are awarded for students successfully completing the course.


Other Forensic Products and Equipment

KOM-804-SET: Skull Trauma Set of Six FragmentsKOM-804-SET: Skull Trauma Set of Six Fragments
Bone Clones® KOM-804-SET is a blunt force trauma set of skull fragments that exhibit various types of depressed fractures, ranging from no evidence of healing to completely healed fractures. Cast from real skull fragments from real cases, the injuries were caused by different weapons, such as hammers and bullets. This set is presented as fragments, allowing one to observe the inner and outer table of the skull fragment at the site of the injury. The injuries featured include projectile weapons causing atypical wounds, such as keyhole defects with the characteristic external beveling at the impact site. Depressed bone fracture patterns such as circular fractures and shearing fractures are also featured, exhibiting the various types of forces seen in blunt force trauma. Also present is a fragment showing evidence of advanced healing from a depressed fracture, indicating long survival after injury. This set is an invaluable teaching tool for those needing to demonstrate blunt force injury patterns. This skull is cast in polyurethane resin and will withstand many years of repeated use. Professionals in the fields of ballistics, forensic anthropology, and pathology will find this product to be of great value in discussing the injury patterns caused by blunt force trauma to students, law enforcement, and in the courtroom setting.