Forensic investigators are called to the crime scene to collect evidence and examine them, which will help law enforcement agencies to use the report for the further proceeding of the case. Crime scene investigation is an exact science. Crime scene investigation need to be able to use many different tools and collect evidence in a way that does not contaminate it.
A crime scene is not fixed. Any physical scene, anywhere, may provide potential evidence to an investigator, including the victim’s body, any building, vehicles, and objects found at those locations. Depending on the crime scenes and the type of crime that occurred, the investigator brings the kits, including the necessary equipment within.
Hundreds of items make up a typical crime scene kit, which may include anything from Q-tips to bolt cutters to a hacksaw. Big or small, shared or separately owned, a crime scene investigator’s crime scene kit offers the supplies, tools, and protective gear to get the job done right.
Well-stocked crime scene kits typically come with the necessary equipment from various law enforcement agencies. They may differ in “basic supplies,” but a crime scene investigator may always add to their kit if required. Some crime scene investigators tend to use more of one supply than another, or some tools more than others, and such will always depend on location, situation, and crime scene. However, a few basics should be stored in every crime scene kit.
General and Basics Equipment Kit
Every investigator’s tool kit varies, but basics include disposable gloves, crime scene tape, a hand-held magnification glass, a flashlight, tweezers, a box of swabs, paper sacks and envelopes, paint spray, measuring devices, orange evidence flags, adhesive lint roller, and a portable source of infrared, laser or ultraviolet light.
In addition, crime scene investigators bring a camera with plenty of film (or a digital camera with a memory chip), a voice recorder, a sketchpad, logbooks, and pens.
Evidence Collection Tools
Such tools may be typical garage-type tools like hammers, pliers, and crowbars but may also include thermometers, flashlights, batteries, spotlights, and extension cords. Almost all crime scene kits will consist of cotton gloves, surgical gloves, and cellophane tape for lifting prints and rulers to determine the size and ratio in crime scene photographs.
A well-stocked kit will also include forceps or tweezers of various sizes and stocks of cotton swabs, swatches, and clear plastic evidence bags or paper bags. Of course, what would a crime scene kit be without barrier tape, the most common of which is emblazoned with “Crime Scene — Do Not Cross.” Ropes of at least 100 feet in length always come in handy.
These are just a few of the items a crime scene investigator places in their kit, and the possibilities are endless, depending on personal preference and departmental policy.
Evidence Collection Containers
These items are essential to proper crime scene investigation. It won’t matter how much evidence a crime scene investigator collects at a violent crime location if that evidence is somehow tainted or contaminated in collection and processing. Nor will it be accepted into a court of law if it does not arrive at the crime lab, the police storage facility, or any other testing facility that indicates that it has been damaged or compromised.
As such, adequate supplies of evidence containers and packaging materials must be on hand when arriving at a crime scene. Such collections include small, medium, and large paper envelopes and small paper bags such as the kind that lunches are packed in. Sterile tissues or papers for collecting evidence are then folded and placed into individual envelopes or purses, which are also necessary for the crime scene kit.
Pill-type containers, as well as tube containers with stoppers, are also vital. Zipper closure plastic bags in various sizes are indispensable at a crime scene, as are evidence boxes of multiple sizes to accommodate pieces of clothing and larger evidence objects. Many crime scene investigators also carry a supply of sterile paint cans with lids for the collection of solid evidence and a good supply of evidence tags and tape. A black marking pen, or two or three, is a common and vital part of any crime scene kit. Make sure that whatever is used to label evidence will not rub off.
A fingerprint kit is also essential for crime scene investigations. It contains one or more than half a dozen different kinds of regular and magnetic fingerprint processing powders in various colors, including fluorescent.
In addition, a multitude of fingerprint brushes make the crime scene technician’s job a little easier, as do fingerprint cards, lifting tape, post-mortem fingerprint tools, and fingerprint ink pads.
A fingerprint processing kit would not be complete without at least a few chemicals, including but not limited to luminal, ninhydrin, and perhaps even iodine and silver nitrate.
It also includes adhesive and gelatine lifting materials, Cyanoacrylate (super glue) wand/ packets, Fingerprint ink pads, cards and cardholders for exemplar collection, flashlight, light source, and Lift cards, including 8 ½” x 11″ card stock, measurement scales, powders.
A casting kit is used for preserving footprints and tire prints. This kit includes a casting compound, casting powder, a water container, a mixing bowl, mixing tools, casting frames of various sizes, rubber lifters, a fixative, and Snow Print Wax spray. This last tool allows investigators to take castings in snow. A casting kit may include an extruder gun to let investigators take impressions from tool marks. Some investigators carry serial number restoration fluid, which can help them determine if a serial number has been scraped off from a gun or other piece of evidence.
Impression wax is available for making dental impressions and uses in snow.
Other print lifting materials such as electrostatic lifting devices and films, and gelatine lifters are standard components in any well-stocked casting kit.
Laser Trajectory Kit
If the investigator is called to the shooting scene, she will probably bring a laser trajectory kit. This helps her determine the path of a bullet or other projectile. The kit includes an angle finder, a centering cone, a laser pointer, penetration rods, and a tripod mount.
The crime scene investigator also uses gunshot residue kits to determine if a suspect has fired a gun. Another kit has chemicals and sterile swabs to detect the presence of blood at a scene. A trace evidence kit contains many different types and sizes of containers and tape lifts or a trace evidence vacuum. A sexual assault kit will help the investigator collect and organize evidence such as fingernail scrapings, foreign substances, and hair.
While it is the job of the crime scene investigator to locate and collect as much evidence from a crime scene as possible, they must be able to do so safely. It is essential that all evidence gathered from a crime scene is appropriately handled, collected, packaged, and transported to its destination following departmental policy and protocol and always following the proper evidence chain.
While every case is different and may require a different approach by the crime scene investigator, safety and procedure, and policy should always be followed to ensure not only the safety of the investigating officers but also of the public so that the crime scene investigator may ensure that they are doing the job the crime scene investigator is charged with: protect and preserve the evidence.
Essential Kits for Crime Scene Investigation
Crime scene investigation is the process of recognizing, preserving, and collecting physical evidence – more precisely called physical traces – to reconstruct and understand past criminal events. These traces are silent witnesses containing information of utmost importance.
Loss of this information as a result of destruction, deterioration, or lack of awareness could thus potentially jeopardize an entire investigation. The CSI kits are assets to any crime scene investigation.
They lower the risk of compromising physical traces due to the readily available material and equipment stored in practical and portable cases, which are easily deployable on the field. These kits facilitate the complete and systematic processing of any crime scene.